Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 4 (Philly leads 3-1)
Jordan Staal: Playoff hat tricks are a pretty easy way to earn this nomination, especially when they come before the puck even drops in the third period. The Penguins had a little slack to pick up on offense with James Neal suspended and I think they did that just fine, particularly when Staal scores on all three shots he takes in the game. Talk about no wasted efforts.
In addition to the scoring, Staal was excellent in the faceoff circle too, taking the most of his in the all-important defensize zone. He was well over 50 percent on the night.
Sidney Crosby's and Staal's quick goals late in the first period. The Flyers had scored twice in a minute to regain the lead and you started to get the feeling that it was "here we go again" for the Penguins. That changed suddenly when Crosby scored at 16:19 and Staal followed it up just 1:10 later to give the Pens the lead, one they wouldn't relinquish -- finally as far as this series is concerned for Pittsburgh.
We also would have accepted the fifth goal, also from Staal, that knocked Ilya Bryzgalov out of the game. Considering how at times he has been shown to have his confidence shaken, you wonder if that might not be a bigger turn not just for this game, but this series.
Just crazy. I mean, 9-3 after two periods? Really? Lost in all the talk about the Penguins' defense in this series is the fact that Philadelphia's hasn't been a whole lot better. At all, in fact. They thought they would move to a more defensive philosophy this season and spent the big bucks on a goaltender and, well, 10 goals against in one game isn't inspiring. A game like this can make you think that the Penguins really aren't out of it yet.
Photo: US Presswire