Monday, April 23, 2012

Flyers Blow Past the Penguins.

The Flyers did it! They triumphed over the Penguins in one of the fiercest rivalries in the NHL. And in doing so, they closed the books on one of the oddest playoff series in recent memory. Everyone has seen sweeps. Everyone has seen comebacks. You even occasionally see a high scoring game. But 3 games where a team scores 8 or more? And a game with 10 goals scored by one team? It's practically unheard of. The question is, was it a tough enough test to prepare the Flyers for the 2nd round?

For one man it was. Claude Giroux made his mark on the NHL this season with an astonishing performance in this series. Coming in, this series was about 2 players, and how they would simply dominate the opposition. Those two players? Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. And what did those two players do in this series? Well, Evgeni Malkin was completely overshadowed by rookie Sean Coturier. The rookie didn't care about how many goals or points Malkin had collected during the regular season. He simply shut Malkin down, and scored himself. Notably his first career hat trick.

And Sidney Crosby? Well, I won't go too deeply into how Sidney Crosby comported himself on the ice. True, he did score. But he behaved the way a 4 year old does when he doesn't get his way. And for the leading star, supposedly, in the NHL, this is not what they needed. Did Wayne Gretzky ever shove away a players glove? Or pull a player down by his hair? No. And Sidney Crosby did just that.

But let's look at what's really important. Giroux had a break out series. And not just as a player, but as a leader. He had goals, he had assists, he stood up for his team mates. He did everything Flyers fans wanted Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to do. And most importantly, when the team needed a lift after 2 straight losses, he asked for the spotlight. He asked for the first shift, he wanted to make something happen. And he did. 32 second into game 6, Giroux, scored a goal. And the Flyers never looked back.

So are they ready for the rest of the playoffs? I think so. They have a proven leader in Claude Giroux. They have veteran talent in Talbot, Jagr, and Timmonen. And they have rising young stars like Sean Coturier, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds to provide that youthful energy. And now that they have beaten a team loaded with stars, the have the confidence they need to make a deep run in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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