This is about as poorly as you can begin a playoff series.
On Wednesday night we kicked off the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a pair of games that began at 7:00 pm Eastern, and while one of them was a closely contested affair, the other was not.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were facing off against their long-time rivals the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the playoffs, and they kicked off their series with an emphatic performance through the first 2 periods of play. The Penguins completely dominated the Flyers who honestly looked shell shocked as the Penguins put in puck after puck past goaltender Brian Elliott and into the Philadelphia net.
Less than midway through the second period 5 different Penguins players had found the back of the net and the Flyers were left staring at a 5 - 0 deficit, having provided no answer and no support for their veteran goaltender. After the fifth goal went in Philadelphia Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol had seen enough and signaled for Elliott to come out of the net and join his teammates on the bench.
At that point though the Flyers players who remained in the game must have already felt like this was going to be an insurmountable lead from the Penguins, not only had Philadelphia been outscored but they were also being outplayed up and down the ice. To be fair to Elliott here both the third and fifth goal came off of spectacular players and the goalie isn't the only one you could point to for why the puck ended up finding the back of the net on each play.
The third goal was scored by Penguins superstar Evgeni Malkin, and he made just about every Flyers playing on the ice look silly while doing so. With roughly 6 minutes left to play in the first period Malkin recovered the puck in the Penguins defensive zone and skated all the way up the ice, nearly uncontested, before firing the puck past a lone Flyers defenseman and the aforementioned Brian Elliott. There's no doubt that Malkin is a supremely talented player, but you can't blame the goalie when a guy like him is allowed to skate all the way up the ice and into the opposing zone.
The fifth goal came courtesy of more spectacular hand-eye coordination from Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby. Once again it's hard to put the blame entirely on Elliott here as not only was Crosby relatively uncontested in front of the net, but it's also the kind of tip in that would have beaten a lot of goalies in the National Hockey League.
The Flyers chased too hard on the play and that left Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin wide open for a shot from the point, and while that shot was initially deflected, Crosby managed to tap in for an amazing goal. For the third time that I can remember this season Crosby batted a spinning puck out of mid air and sent it perfectly into the top corner over Elliott's shoulder.
A very rough start to a tough series against the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions for the Flyers.
Photo Credit: Keystone Press