During last night’s heated Game 4 between Buffalo and Philadelphia, the heat that many were expecting to see between these two teams finally started to show up. You saw Ryan Miller and Dan Carcillo take pokes at each other and you also saw Flyers captain Mike Richards deliver a questionable back-elbow to the face of Patrick Kaleta.
Richards received a five-minute major for elbowing on his play and while it’s not as obvious as say Chris Kunitz’s elbow to Simon Gagne was, getting the captain sent off for five minutes grabs everyone’s attention. It certainly got the attention of Daniel Briere who is doing a daily blog at Chuck Gormley’s Flyer Files.
Briere who has been denying being a war of words with former teammate Ryan Miller, spoke out this morning on the site to say that the referees might be better off getting their act together.
Last night we felt the five-minute penalty on Mike Richards was personal more than anything and there was a lot of frustration from that. Mike wasn’t happy about the (roughing) call on (Dan) Carcillo when both Miller and (Mike) Weber were mugging him and Weber didn’t get anything. We were all furious about that call and then he turned around and gave Mike the five minutes. For the most part since I’ve been here the refs have been very good at knowing the difference between the playoffs and the regular season, but I thought last night the line was crossed by one of them.
This sort of frustration was being echoed by all the Flyers after last night’s 1-0 loss but when you see it there in cold hard print, it hammers things home a bit.
Of course we treat these things a bit cynically as we’re guessing the Flyers might be politicking for some calls to go their way. That’d be understandable if they were being shortchanged in that department but they’re not. The Sabres have had 30 penalties called against them in the playoffs, tied for most in the postseason with Anaheim. They’ve spent over 34 minutes on the penalty kill in the series.
If the Flyers power play performed better (scoring at a 9.5% rate in the playoffs, fifth worst in the postseason) they could’ve put Buffalo in a much worse spot by now but instead they’re in a fight for the series down to a best of three at this point.
If Philadelphia wants to help put the Sabres away they’re going to have to get to Ryan Miller somehow as well as get their power play clicking at a better rate. If not, games like last night’s Game 4 could happen again and when it comes down to it, you don’t want to end up in that uncomfortable position of leaving fate up to the goalies.
This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.
The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.
(Watch that goal in the video above.)
It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.
Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.
To start the seemingly pivotal stretch, Andrei Vasilevskiy made an outstanding save on Evgeni Malkin on what sure looked like a scary chance.
The play swiftly shifted from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s end to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ side of the ice, and it seemed like Jonathan Drouin scored a big 1-0 goal in Game 6.
As it turns out, the goal was disallowed thanks to an offside goal review.
Here are a few viewpoints on that moment in GIF form … you can get a fuller view via the video above.
The general feeling among those who don’t have a horse in the race is that it was the right call. (Lightning fans were, uh, not happy.)
At some point, it will probably be kind of boring to hear members of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization praise Jonathan Drouin.
At least if Drouin re-signs with the Bolts after quite the affirming postseason and his ascension amid injuries.
These days? It’s still sort of entertaining.
In the latest case, Jon Cooper was asked to compare the development paths for Nikita Kucherov vs. Drouin. After empathizing with the pressure Drouin carries as a high-end pick (vs. Kucherov’s ability to come in under the radar), Cooper had some very positive things to say about No. 27.
” … So many people think, well, you’re just going to step in the league at 18 and be dominant,” Cooper said. “I truly believe Jonathan is going to be dominant in this league, but it’s hard to do at 18. He had to work through it, and that’s it.”
Drouin, now at 21, has 12 points in 15 playoff games.
In other Lightning news, it sounds like the team will roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, an alignment that has been working well lately and also came through at times during the 2015 postseason.
The Penguins, meanwhile, replace Beau Bennett with Conor Sheary.
Tonight could be the final game of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. You can catch Game 6 via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.
Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (8:00 p.m. ET)
The television broadcast of Game 6 is on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Bolts lead the series 3-2.
Here’s some relevant reading material to get you ready for tonight’s game:
—Malkin guaranteed a Penguins win in Game 6
—Lightning coach doesn’t seem flustered by Malkin’s guarantee
—Kucherov continues to be clutch for the Bolts this postseason
—Marc-Andre Fleury: ‘I should have been better’ in Game 5