Orange & Black Breakdown
by Marc Siciliano on 04/16/12 at 04:18 PM ET
Just when you thought the Pittsburgh Penguins couldn’t look any more defeated, the final blow was sent in true American fashion.
“Watcha gonna do when Flyers Mania runs wild on you!?!?” bellowed Hulk Hogan to a raucous crowd of over 20,000, as a helpless Sidney Crosby could only muster a fully-deflated upwards glance at the perfectly timed message ringing through the arena in crystal-clear HD with just a few minutes left in Game 3.
Much like any shirt the Hulkster has ever worn, the Penguins have managed to destroy a complete body of hard work, blood, and sweat in an instant, needing only nine periods and change to bust the seams and tear apart the fabric of a season that has become synonymous with the term ‘cup favorites’.
Even if you were saying your prayers and eating your vitamins, Flyers fans couldn’t ask for a better start to the postseason. But now what?
(PS – Hulk video after the jump)
Kudos to the Flyers Video department or whomever it was who thought to pull that off yesterday, because in my opinion that was the icing on the most awesome playoff cake I’ve had in years. Maybe it was the perfect timing of the video, but should this series end in four games I look forward to this serving as the exclamation point of the victory in my memory for years to come.
That being said, it is time to move on from the euphoric daydreams of Penguin-colored brooms hitting the ice and re-focus on the task at hand, because there is still a victory to be had in order to move on to the next round.
Hartnell has given us plenty to cheer about
Yes, the Flyers have never lost a series when up 2-0, let alone 3-0. Yes, only 3 other NHL teams have ever completed such a comeback, one of them being a Laviolette-led Flyers squad from just a few short years ago. And yes, this Penguin team has not looked like the one that everyone was picking to hoist the cup, particularly from the back end out. But a team with nothing to lose and all the talent in the world at its disposal will surely prove to be a fickle opponent, and the Flyers would be wise to end this quickly.
I am hard pressed to think of an opponent more capable of flipping the script and erasing a 3-game deficit than the Penguins, and if this series has proven anything it’s that nothing goes as planned. Four game winning streaks in the regular season aren’t a crazy notion and a long series is still very much in the cards until the Flyers can manage the hardest and most important win of all– the fourth one.
It’s obvious the offense is producing at an incredible rate, but it is equally obvious that there is room for improvement on the back end. Kubina has looked as slow as ever and Lilja’s decision making has been equally suspect. The Flyers need some serious help from their third defensive pairing if they want to sustain a playoff push for the long term, otherwise their top pairing guys will start to tire out. If they can’t get it together, you have to wonder when Gus will get to see some action.
The poor defense has been overshadowed by the stellar offense… for now.
In the crease, Bryz has made some stellar stops; but putting together a solid start from beginning to end would go a long way in helping to intimidate future opponents and also infuse even more confidence within the locker room. A confident and comfortable Bryz also helps lead to a more in-control defensive performance in front of him. These improvements will be crucial for the Flyers to close out the series on a high note.
The playoffs are less than a week old, yet here the Flyers stand on the verge of advancing. With such a stranglehold on the series, you have to wonder if the Flyers might almost be moving too quickly through the first round. The ever-present theory of momentum usually frowns upon extended down time in the midst of a playoff run, and with so many battles on hand this round it isn’t tough to imagine round two still being weeks away. To this I say: bollocks.
It can’t be said enough so I’ll say it again: no team is more prepared to make a comeback than the Pittsburgh Penguins. Every game the Flyers play versus their bitter division rival is another game that carries the risk of a loss in many forms, be it injury, suspension, fatigue, confidence, etc.
Momentum is a mindset that isn’t worth losing a guy like Giroux or Timonen for the playoffs over. Furthermore, the opportunity to nurse some injuries and gain some players back in the fold (looking at you JVR!!!!) should serve as an equal shot of confidence to a team that will already be riding high should they send Pittsburgh to Puttsburgh.
The goal when this series started should have been to survive and advance as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Brother, we’re almost home to the next round. *Rips (pre-sliced) shirt off violently*
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About Orange & Black Breakdown
The Orange & Black Breakdown looks to be the ultimate, around the clock source for news and information on the Philadelphia Flyers organization and it’s ever-present quest for the Stanley Cup. Focusing on what the team can do to achieve success is the ultimate goal.
The OBB is written and maintained by myself - Marc Siciliano. I’m a college graduate and media production professional in the sports industry with credits on projects like Hard Knocks: Bengals and 24/7 Penguins vs. Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic. A man of many hobbies, I always seem to find a way to spend a disproportionate amount of my daily routine with two things: Flyers hockey and social media (much to the dismay of my hockey impartial friends on twitter).
So what does this mean for you? The plan is to combine these
time-wasting habits passions with my love for writing to provide you with complete coverage of the Flyers from both my head and around the web, 24/7.
This is my second writing stint focusing on the Flyers, but for a much larger audience - so do be gentle. Different perspectives and opinions on the organization are welcome and encouraged. Just because I see it one way doesn’t mean I’m beyond seeing it your way as well, so speak up!
I’m always interested in interacting with readers, so find me on twitter (@marcs797) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let’s talk hockey.
Thanks for reading; Lets go Flyers!