The Philadelphia Flyers have historically been known as an undisciplined goon squad. Flyers fans like myself have endured that for years, while also enduring how the Pittsburgh Penguins have been better known for their offense and their play-making superstars. However, out of the two teams in Wells Fargo Center on April 15, the Penguins seemed far more out of focus - on the ice and on the scoreboard.
It was the Penguins, not the Flyers, who started brutal fights and then couldn't back up their brutality where it counted. It was Pittsburgh, not Philadelphia, who had the most undisciplined and sloppy goaltender and couldn't buy a save. And it is now the Penguins, not the Flyers, who are on the brink of elimination after an 8-4 loss in Game 3.
The astonishing thing was that Pittsburgh fell apart quicker than it usually does against Philadelphia. It looked like things were starting right on schedule, as the Penguins got an early goal and had a chance to get a second on a power play. But when Marc-Andre Fleury let a puck from Max Talbot bounce behind him, the floodgates opened for an early Penguins disaster.
Unlike in Games 1 and 2, fighting plated a part to knock Pittsburgh off course as well. Sidney Crosby started the madness by slapping a glove away from Jakob Voracek, then actually got into a scrum with Claude Giroux. When that dust settled, Arron Asham laid out Brayden Schenn in a cheap retaliation shot. And while the Penguins kept racking up penalty minutes, the Flyers racked up actual goals on a more hapless than usual Fleury.
However, the Penguins still kept closing the deficit to one goal and were in position to give the Flyers a taste of their comeback medicine. Yet Pittsburgh still couldn't stay out of the penalty box, which allowed Philadelphia to get two more man advantage goals in the last second of power plays. Then when the Flyers finally increased the lead to three in the third period, all the Penguins had left to offer was more fights and cheap shots.
This kind of collapse and devolution into fisticuffs is much more of a Flyers trademark. Yet it was the Penguins who ignited the bad blood, with everything from cheap shots, late hits and even hair pulling. If they were trying to beat the Flyers at their own game, they failed to recognize that this isn't entirely Philadelphia's game plan anymore. In fact, the Flyers are slaughtering the Penguins at their old game.
Pittsburgh is supposed to overwhelm the opposition with its offense, while Philadelphia is normally destroyed by disastrous goaltending and a lack of discipline in the playoffs. But the Penguins have entered a bizarro world of sorts - although one more loss will mercifully cast them out soon enough.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight - and as such, has become quite familiar with the Penguins in that time.
Other stories from this contributor
- Ice Hockey
- Sports & Recreation
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- the Penguins