Last February, after a brawl-filled game on Long Island that saw his Penguins and the New York Islanders rack up 346 penalty minutes, Pens legend and owner Mario Lemieux released a statement in which he said the contest “was a travesty” and that “it was painful to watch the game I love turn into a sideshow like that.”
Later on in the statement, Lemieux said “We, as a league, must do a better job protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players… If the events relating to [the] game reflect the state of the league, I need to reflect whether I want to be a part it.”
Well then, after the deplorably shameful actions of your team, especially your star captain, in Sunday’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, what say you, Le Magnifque?
The Flyers didn’t just humiliate the Penguins again on Sunday afternoon, they once and for all peeled back the facade showed a nationally televised audience what the NHL-starlet Penguins truly are: an incredibly skilled team composed of dirty players that cry, moan and act like spoiled children when they don’t get their way.
In other words, the Flyers have spray-painted all over the NHL’s Sistine Chapel, and it couldn’t have come soon enough.
Philadelphia’s favorite wannabe pugilist, Sidney Crosby, you know, the main attraction of Penguins’ song and dance routine, is the root of Pittsburgh’s sudden unveiling.
So far, Crosby, the Pens’ captain, consensus best player in the league when he’s healthy and Olympic and Stanley Cup hero, has decided to slash Ilya Bryzgalov after whistles, push Jake Voracek’s glove down the ice, start trouble with the incredibly well-respected Kimmo Timonen, try and back out of a fight with Claude Giroux, instigate with Scott Hartnell and refuse to drop the gloves with Brayden Schenn, all while seeking refuge with the referees and linesmen.
It didn’t stop there as in the locker room after the game Crosby told reporters “I don’t like anyone on that team,” while arrogantly answering questions with clearly ignorant body language (I encourage finding video of the media scrum if you haven’t seen it.). Stay classy, Sidney.
Leadership by example, as the saying goes.
James Neal, an extremely talented 40 goal-scorer, decided he needed to join the party by leaving his feet and leveling a defenseless Sean Couturier in the head. If that wasn’t bad enough, he decided to throw a reckless speeding elbow at Giroux’s head on his very next shift and make his way to the bench during the ensuing melee as if he were a child with a guilty conscience that goes straight to its room to avoid a parental tongue-lashing after breaking a picture frame. For his efforts, Neal received a well-deserved, expletive-filled mouthful from across the bench courtesy of Flyers assistant coach Craig Berube.
After the game, Neal said, “I didn’t even mean to hit [Couturier]… I let up on him as much as I could and it is what it is.” Whatever you say, James.
Aaron Asham, a very likable tough guy when he wore the Orange and Black, took goonery to whole new level with a crosscheck to the throat of Schenn after Schenn leveled Pittsburgh defenseman Paul Martin with a powerful but clean and legal hit. Asham then proceeded to punch Schenn in the back of the head while he was convalescing on the ice.
Seriously, there is no place in the game for that. It was appalling. He should be suspended for the rest of the series.
Lest we forget about Kris Letang, the Pens’ star defenseman that decided to fight Timonen, who was tangled with Crosby after another one of his childish antics, and “shhhh” the blood-thirsty Flyer fans, i.e. Max Talbot in the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Instead of firing up his team, he, along with Timonen, was booted out of the game, costing Pittsburgh it’s only steady defenseman in a series where the Flyers have torched the Penguins D. The Flyers finished the game with eight goals.
It’s not 2009 anymore and this a different, more focused Flyer team that doesn’t give into those shenanigans. Smooth move.
It was generally assumed that the psychological advantage Philadelphia had over Pittsburgh coming into the series could show on the ice but no one saw it becoming this much of a factor.
Between the Game 1 comeback, the Game 2 stampede and Game 3 embarrassment, the Flyers have frustrated the Penguins to the point that they have totally unraveled and self-destructed right in front of the nation’s eyes.
The psychological clutch the Flyers have on Pittsburgh has caused the Penguins to lose their cool and their true colors. Thanks to the Flyers, the Penguins have permanently tarnished their immaculate reputation have once and for been exposed.
You’re welcome, world.