They already have two future Hall of Famers in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, plus another 330-goal scorer in Phil Kessel.
Clearly, the Pittsburgh Penguins don’t need another team’s charity when it came to scoring goals and winning hockey games.
But the Flyers obliged anyway and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions certainly didn’t refuse the gratuity, as the Penguins were rewarded with seven power-play opportunities on their way to an easy 5-1 win in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Dave Hakstol could have written with a big, black Sharpie “Don't take penalties” on his dry-erase board and the message would have applied no matter how many games this series goes.
“I don’t know if it’s frustration or you get caught not moving your feet and you’re reaching a little bit,” goaltender Brian Elliott said. “That’s what happens when you lose control of your stick.”
After sticking it to the Penguins on Friday in Pittsburgh, 5-1, the Flyers found a completely different method of sticking it to the Pens for Game 3.
There was a pair of tripping and high-sticking penalties to go along with a slashing call. In all, the Flyers were guilty of five stick infractions in just under 40 minutes in Game 3, and the free fall started with Claude Giroux’s slashing call against Sidney Crosby just 72 seconds into the second period.
“I didn’t think G’s slash, honestly, was a penalty, but the stick comes out of their player’s hands and that gets called,” Dave Hakstol said. “That’s the only one that I probably would have had an issue with.”
“You can’t do that against that team,” Nolan Patrick said. “They have an unbelievable power play.”
Actually, unbelievable is an understatement.
Not only did the Penguins bring the NHL’s No. 1 power play into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, at a 26.2 percent success rate, this power play was also the most successful power play in the history of the Penguins franchise.
Fifty-one seasons in the expansion era and this was ranked No. 1. Not even Mario Lemieux with Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis and Paul Coffey operated a power play at a higher rate of success than the 2017-18 Penguins.
The Flyers' 29th-ranked penalty kill, which had struggled throughout most of the regular season, found a way to limit the Penguins to just one power-play goal in eight chances over the first two games of the series. Of the 16 playoff teams, the Flyers had statistically the best penalty kill in the postseason.
Play roulette 20 times and statistical probability will tell you that if you land on black on the first 12 spins, eventually you’ll have a run on red.
After two games, it was time to cash in your chips and leave the casino.
Yet the Flyers, in their carelessness Sunday, elected to let it all ride in Game 3, and now they’ve handed home-ice advantage back to Pittsburgh.