No matter the price of admission or the Flyers’ place in the standings, the battle of Pennsylvania consistently fills Wells Fargo Center. Whenever the Penguins come to town, the nostalgia of the brutality of this rivalry becomes the talk of the town.
As times have changed and the franchises don’t turn into blood baths any longer, scoring has become the new violence. Fortunately for the Flyers, they avenged their last beating from Pittsburgh with a victory of their own.
The Flyers came out on top of the Keystone State Rivalry on Tuesday night, as Brian Elliott held the Penguins scoreless in a 3-0 rout at Wells Fargo Center.
Setting the Tone:
Philadelphia fans helped welcome Pittsburgh with a warm Philly welcome to start this game. “Sucks” echoed after each name in the starting lineup for the Penguins, and boo’s rained down each time Crosby touched the puck.
Setting the tone early was an understatement for Philly and Pittsburgh. Physicality was drawn up in the gameplan for both teams, and each of them executed. In the first period alone, the two combined for 24 hits. All four lines on opposing sides came out with a lot of energy and emotion, feeding into this rivalry.
The first period was kept scoreless, as Brian Elliott and his opposition, Tristan Jarry, were playing stellar. What stood out, however, was the Flyers’ strong neutral and defensive zone play.
The Flyers were not giving the Penguins any easy zone entries. Each time a Penguin tried to enter the Flyers’ defensive zone, he was immediately swarmed. This style of play resulted in a more “dump-and-chase” style of play, which allowed the Flyers to set up a break out of their own.
The aggressiveness kept notorious Flyers’ killers Crosby and Malkin to a total of four shots combined between two periods. However, the most impressive aspect of their game was what came after their defensive presence. Their breakouts were smooth and continued to thrive on offensive zone patience to create scoring opportunities.
Overall, the Flyers start to this game led them to success as the game went on…
Jakub Voracek broke open the scoring during the five-minute mark of the second period. After some great passing from Farabee and Couturier, Voracek made a nifty move to beat Jarry.
About 13 minutes later, JVR would finally get a puck to the back of the net, and he earned it. After the Penguins gained possession, JVR was quickly on the backcheck. This ultimately created a turnover, collected by Giroux, which was fed back to JVR. JVR found TK, who patiently skated in, found JVR, and had an easy path to find twine.
Scoring would end for both sides after this until Justin Braun would score from the Flyers’ own slot into an empty net.
Conflicting Special Teams
Both the Flyers and Penguins were 0-3 on the powerplay. There are many assumptions that could come from this, but here’s what you need to know:
The Flyers’ powerplay looked sloppy. They couldn’t get set up and failed to get any open looks for the majority of their time. However, the Flyers did the exact same to the Penguins’ (recently) successful man advantage.
We’ll let Kevin Hayes demonstrate how the Flyers handled being down a man:
As a team, the Flyers played stellar defensively. As mentioned already, the Flyers locked all windows and doors as the Penguins even tried to enter their zone. The Penguins could not get much going and only registered 19 total shots throughout the game.
It was the quality of those scoring chances, however, that made Brian Elliott stand out. On multiple occasions, the Penguins found themselves alone in the slot or sitting back door. Elliott took away these tap in goals and bailed his teammates out on multiple Penguins’ opportunities. He well deservedly played himself to the first star of the night.
This game was actually the first game of a home and home with Pittsburgh. The Flyers just have nine days off, due to their bye week and the all-star break. These two teams will square off on January 31st to kick off the home stretch of this season. And of course, good luck to Travis Konecny at this year’s NHL all-star game.
Avid Philly fan and future educator
Student at Stockton University