The Pittsburgh Penguins faced off against the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday in Toronto, dropping their lone exhibition match before the playoffs begin.
For starters, it was just an exhibition match for the Penguins, but you could tell that it meant a lot more than just what it was. Players were flying around screaming for the puck all night long, and even Rusty and Brian Dumoulin sacrificed their bodies in front of some hellacious shots. Heck, even Sidney Crosby decided to suit up and give it a go.
Yes, the numbers on the scoreline didn’t matter, but it certainly did for everyone on the ice, and it mattered in regards to seeing how the Pittsburgh Penguins performed. Their performances during the match, although showed heart, lacked the “rust free” touch that will be needed moving into the qualifying rounds this weekend.
The National Hockey League did a great job of making the arena look less eery than other sports, but the lack of fans undoubtedly impacted the players. From the start, that was evident as the passing wasn’t as tight as expected. Seconds into the match, Matt Murray had to work extra hard after Kris Letang coughed up the puck in the middle of the ice.
The Penguins exhibition loss shows everything needing to be fixed
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That issue was quietly forgotten, an excellent team possession gave Conor Sheary and the Penguins the lead. To continue that roller coaster ride, seconds before the first period, Evgeni Malkin made a superb pass, just to the wrong team setting up the Flyers going into the intermission. However, that brain aching play was only the tip of the iceberg.
The Pittsburgh Penguins ended the night with 17 total turnovers, and one of not two idiotic penalties; really, too many men on the ice? Yes, that happened, but realistically, it’s good that it happened now, and not next week in a tough best of five matchups against the Montreal Canadiens.
Once the game got to OT, it was all but over, as the Flyers got two easy breakaways, and with all his might, Tristan Jarry couldn’t do it all. The team won’t have the time to test the waters against the Canadiens, and they don’t have a lot of time to prep as we are only three days away from the start of the playoffs.
The Pens have been so resilient over the season, and even last night, as Jason Zucker tied it up in the dying minutes of the game. However, it wasn’t enough, but now they know how and what do fix before the real stats begin.