I’ll start by expressing just how lovely it is to be back watching playoff hockey. We all know that virtually every aspect of the game increases in speed and physicality but until it’s back being performed in front of us each spring, it’s easy to forget just how tremendous the level of play is.
I like it a lot.
The first game of the night was another lopsided affair. The battle of Pennsylvania features just a bucket load of elite talent and after Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel ran the show in game one, Philly took their turn Friday evening.
Sean Couturier led the charge with a goal and two helpers and Brian Elliott made 34 stops as the Flyers tied the series at one with a 5-1 victory.
Kudos to head coach, Dave Hakstol for sticking with Elliott after he was torched in game one, because the veteran netminder had to make a half dozen key stops including a 4-on-4 breakaway versus Crosby.
Claude Giroux rocked Kris Letang with an…unorthadox hit that will likely get a second look from the Department of Player Safety. Letang left the game for some time but did return. He only saw 14 seconds of power play time afterwards though.
The Penguins outshot and out-chanced the Flyers once again, but this time their ice-cold top power play unit came back to haunt them. Despite leading the league during the regular season with a 26.2 percent efficiency rate, they Penguins have just one goal in seven tries so far in the post-season and that came from their second unit.
With the sheer volume of talent available it’ll be difficult to expect a true shake-up with their units, but we may see Jake Guentzel get the net front spot up front and if healthy, Kris Letang should resume his position on the point in game three.
Matt Murray had a rare postseason night to forget. He gave up four goals on 19 shots and didn’t look overly sharp at any point. It’s fine, he came in to the night sporting a .930 save percentage in 32 playoff games so we’ll give him a mulligan.
After being manhandled in game one by the Bruins on Thursday night, the Maple Leafs were dealt a substantial blow on Friday evening as it was announced that Nazem Kadri would be suspended for three games for his reckless and dangerous hit on Tommy Wingels.