I don’t care how long the Boston – Montreal rivalry has been going on, I don’t care that Detroit is only 209 driving miles from Columbus. The most intense knock down drag ‘em out, fan hate fan, World Series Champion vs. Super Bowl Champion, Rocky Balboa vs. Mean Joe Green playoff battle you are going to see is the Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia one. There will be so many “Go Home Flyers”, “Crosby Sucks”, “na na na, na na na hey hey hey goodbye” and other nasty chants that the networks will be on standby to edit out the profanities. You will see more meat off the bone cheap shots, board jarring checks, death defying goals, knock the helmet off punches, and in your face fan action than the rest of the teams combined, then wait to you see the second game.
Pittsburgh won last years playoff series against Philadelphia in 5 games outscoring the Flyers 20-9. The Flyers top two defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn didn’t play because of injuries. Pittsburgh also won the regular season series this year 4-2. Both games that the Penguins lost were afternoon games.
Evgeni Malkin was the leagues leading scorer and won the league’s Art Ross Trophy with his career high 113 points. Malkin was the eighth player to win the trophy in the last eight seasons. He joins Jaromir Jagr 121, Jarome Iginla 96, Peter Forsberg 106, Martin St. Louis 94, Joe Thornton 125, Sidney Crosby 120 and Alexander Ovechkin 112. Before this streak of 8 different players the most ever different in a row was 4.
Philadelphia went the first 81 games of the season without giving up a shorthanded goal until the Rangers Brandon Dubinsky scored one against them on Sunday. The Penguins scored two shorthanded goals on Saturday on the same power play.
Philadelphia coach John Stevens quote: “I think the end of the year, it’s important how you’re playing, If the last few games are any indication, I thought we played very well…” The Flyers have only won 4 out of their last 10 and all 4 wins were against teams that didn’t make the playoffs. On top of that, three of those Flyer losses were to teams that didn’t make the playoffs. If that’s “very well” then let’s hope they do “very well” in the playoffs.
The comeback kids, Pittsburgh won 11 games when trailing after 2 periods this season. That’s 3 more than the next closest team.
“I don’t like getting pulled and that’s the way it is and that’s it” – Martin Biron.
“I think every guy should at one time try to name an animal or something” – Rocky Balboa
Flyers coach John Stevens flips a coin for the patented excuse laden post game interview:
Heads = The referees didn’t make the calls.
Tails = The Penguins were taking dives.
Only one team since Pittsburgh and Philadelphia joined the NHL in 1967 has won the Stanley Cup after losing in the finals the year before. The Edmonton Oilers at the very beginning of their dynasty.
Gametime is 7PM and can be seen in high definition at the Igloo or at home on FSN.