Saturday April 25th, 2009

The natural tendency after watching Philadelphia blow a three-goal lead in an elimination game is to look for a scapegoat, and there's little doubt that the fingers of Flyers fans will be pointing en masse at Daniel Carcillo.

Carcillo deserves his share of brickbats, but the fact is it wasn't his fault the Flyers lost Game 6 (RECAP | BOX).

That's not to suggest the second-period fight between him and Pittsburgh's Max Talbot wasn't the turning point of the game. Hard to argue otherwise. But the fact that it was speaks volumes about the Flyers' character.

With his team up 3-0 and in control of the contest, Carcillo certainly could have declined Talbot's invitation to dance off the faceoff, and he probably should have. But Carcillo accepted and cleanly won the fight.

That kind of result should have drained the life out of the Penguins and fueled the momentum that Philadelphia had enjoyed to that point.

Instead, it did the exact opposite. Talbot, who had just one major fight all year, seemed to inspire his mates with his willingness to take one for the team. And on the Flyers bench, they failed to not only feed off Carcillo's energy, but to also adjust to the newfound intensity of the Penguins.

That's certainly not the fault of Carcillo, who played just two minutes after the fight.

You want to hand out the goat horns to the most deserving Flyers?

How about a pair for Matt Carle, who failed to finish his check and allowed Evgeni Malkin not one but two chances in tight on Martin Biron? The second shot ended up being tipped in by Ruslan Fedotenko just 14 seconds after the fight to cut the lead to 3-1.

Or what about Randy Jones, who got caught up ice while the Pens broke out on the 3-on-2 that led to Mark Eaton's goal? It was bad enough that Jones allowed the slow-footed Eaton to get by him in the first place, but then he compounded his mistake by gliding into the zone and watching the play when he finally hit the Flyers blue line.

And then there's Kimmo Timonen, the veteran defender who chose to park himself in front of Biron at the tail end of a 2-on-2 instead of tying up Sidney Crosby, who banged the game-tying goal out of mid-air late in the second. It was a tough enough play to begin with. If Timonen had been in Crosby's face, that goal wouldn't have happened.

But it did. Still, even after blowing a three-goal lead, the game was still there to be had. Instead, the Flyers came out for the third period -- at home, with a tie score and their season on the line -- and they simply couldn't match the compete level of the Penguins.

Eighteen Flyers deserve to take the heat for that. Carcillo is just one of them.

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