The Philadelphia Flyers’ completed a sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins in their home-and-home series this weekend.
Although the four points are irrelevant when it comes to the Flyers’ position in relation to Pittsburgh, they are crucial in regards to their position in the Metropolitan Division.
The Metro is about as tight as any race can get. The Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Washington Capitals sit in second through fifth place in their division, separated only by three points. So every game has become a must win for each team.
Philadelphia looked impressive as a whole over the weekend. Every part of their game was clicking as they faced their bitter rivals, and mistakes were kept to a minimum.
The standout stars from the series were Matt Read, Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux.
Read was a force whenever he took the ice this weekend. Tallying three goals over the two games, a shorthanded goal in both, he helped carry the penalty kill.
Read and line-mate Sean Couturier were too much for the Pittsburgh powerplay to handle in both games. Pittsburgh failed to convert on nine powerplay chances while allowing two shorthanded goals.
Wayne Simmonds only tallied one assist in the Flyers’ win Saturday, but had a part in Philadelphia’s first three goals Sunday, scoring two and assisting on the other.
Simmonds is putting together a career year and becoming one of the top power forwards in the NHL. He now has 21 goals and 29 assists, giving him 50 points on the year, a new career high.
Claude Giroux’s red-hot play did not cool down against the Penguins. Despite not scoring any goals over the weekend, Giroux assisted on four goals, two in each game.
Flyers-Penguins games are watched closely because of the duo of Pittsburgh stars in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, arguably two of the world’s best players, as they face Giroux.
Both Crosby and Malkin were held pointless in both games. It’s incredibly rare to see either go multiple games in a row without scoring a point, let alone both at the same time. Credit the Philadelphia defense that played above-and-beyond the call of duty to shut down the duo.
Both wins this weekend were as impressive as they were important, but it shouldn’t go unnoticed that Pittsburgh was riddled with injuries.
The Penguins were without Chris Kunitz, James Neal, Pascal Dupuis, Paul Martin and Kris Letang to name a few. As a major part of the Pittsburgh core, their presence was certainly missed by fans and teammates.
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia will meet for the final time of the regular season on April 12. Although the Flyers have already taken the season series, this game will be an opportunity for payback for Pittsburgh and possibly a must win situation for Philadelphia if they hope to make the postseason.