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.
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.