Thoughts, musings and observations from the Pens' 4-0 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
*The Pens finished off their season-long 5-game, 9-day road trip with a 4-0 setback to cross-state rival Philly. Still the Pens finished the tour with a 3-1-1 record.
During the course of the road swing the Pens covered 4,763 mile, 2 countries, 4 times zones, daylight savings and had to be rerouted due to snowstorms in Philadelphia. The travel and injuries - 1 injury suffered every game - took their toll. The Pens battled and still had a successful road trip, but it was bound to catch up to them some night. Tonight was that night.
*It was an interesting travel day for the Pens. Due to the snowstorm in Philadelphia, the Pens couldn't fly there on Tuesday. So instead the team returned to Pittsburgh from Calgary on Tuesday. Then they traveled to Philadelphia at 9 a.m. this morning and went straight from the airport to the rink for the morning skate. It was not an ideal scenario for the Pens. Not only was their routine thrown off, but you could tell their energy levels were down and they were jetlagged from the 9 days of travel. Probably the accumulation of travel, bumps, bruises, injuries and other factors, but the Pens had nothing left in the tank.
*The hockey gods giveth and they taketh away.
It appeared the Pens finally had some good news on the injury front with the return of 2 players to the lineup.
Matt Cullen was back after missing 3 games with a lower-body injury. Also defenseman Mark Streit returned after missing the final 2 periods against Calgary on Monday with a lower-body injury after blocking a shot.
Meanwhile, Patric Hornqvist was cleared for non-contact practice and rejoined the team for the first time at the morning skate. He missed the past 4 games with a concussion.
But of course, the Pens luck being what it is of late, they lost defenseman Ron Hainsey, who missed the entire 3rd period. It is the 5th straight game that the Pens have been felled by injury.
Counting Hainsey, the Pens have 6 regulars out of the lineup, including 4 key blueliners.
*To say that the Flyers' special teams over the past 6 games had been subpar would be an understatement. Philadelphia was 7.7% on the power play (2 for 26) while their PK was 58.8% (17 goals allowed). But it was the Flyers special teams that made the difference against the Pens, and in a good way for Philly.
Philadelphia struck with a man-advantage score from Wayne Simmonds - which was also his 200th career NHL goal. And the Flyers PK had a perfect performance, going 2-for-2 against the vaunted Pens' power play.
*Defenseman Ian Cole is not only having a career year offensively - setting highs across the board in goals (5), assists (17) and points (22), but he's also having a career year defensively. He has a career-best plus-25. But most impressively, Cole set the franchise record for blocked shots in a season against the Flyers. In the contest he recorded his 165th block, topping Rob Scuderi's mark of 164 in 2008-09.