The Pens vs Flyers games this season have all been rather insane. If anything, the rivalry of the cross state teams has been reignited in a huge way.
The game today from what I understand, was no exception. Now, mind you, I didn’t see a majority of the game. I missed the first and second periods completely and was up and about for the third. Here is what I did see as far as the huge points of contention for the game: I saw Tyler Kennedy take a shot and hit the glass behind the net (typical). I saw Crosby get away with slashing, I saw Steve Sullivan get a goal that was under review and I saw Brayden Schenn cross check Sidney Crosby while the game was not in play. Other than that, I had to watch highlights- and thank goodness for the Internet! I was able to go back and watch the last 11 minutes of the game.
After my Scott Hartnell post I promised I would come back and comment on the events of today’s game, so here we go STRICTLY based on what I did see, what this video shows, and post-game interviews. So if I am totally missing something, I apologize and forgive my ignorance and feel free to correct me.
What Schenn did to Crosby was uncalled for. That was the same as Zac Rinaldo slew footing Zach Parise after the whistle was blown in an effort to stir the pot. So, the Pens were expected to let this slide? Flyers Head Coach Peter Laviolette said that sending out the fourth line was “gutless.” Schenn was on the ice, so Pens Head Coach Dan Bylsma sent out Craig Adams, Joe Vitale, Arron Asham, Matt Niskanen and Deryk Engelland- all of whom are known to drop the gloves when necessary.
So did the fighting start right off of the face off? No. Joe Vitale laid a clean hit on open ice to Danny Briere. Briere skated away and the rest of the guys went at it.
On the bench, Pens assistant coach Tony Granato and Laviolette were having words. We found out after the game from Bylsma’s post game interview, that Lavs smashed a stick against the glass, sending splinters flying over to the Pens bench. Unnecessary. I respect Laviolette as a coach, as I have stated in previous blogs, but he overreacted if this is the case.
Dan Bylsma stated in his post-game presser per Dave Molinari from the Post Gazette: “Bylsma says Laviolette breaking stick on glass and it ending up on Pgh bench triggered exchange between coaches.” Seth Rorabaugh from the PG got a quote from Max Talbot after the game on this: “He actually took my stick and broke it. I was pretty sad about that. It was a good stick. ” (Okay, that made me giggle, and I can’t stand Max Talbot. Even as a Penguin.)
Claude Giroux seems to have a pretty level head about the whole incident with Vitale hitting Briere: “Obviously they hit (Briere) pretty hard. Guys went at it. But, I mean, that’s hockey.” Crosby had just about the same thing to say, “If that’s how they’re going to respond, we’re going to respond the same way. That’s the way it works.”
Here is my two cents for what it’s worth: In a 6-3 game where you are playing your most heated rivals after someone on your team cheap shots one of their players, don’t send Briere out. The Flyers and every other team in the league have used their bruisers on the ice when they were down to try and throw the other team off of their game. Every team in the league has sent out one of their fighters after one of their star players were cheap shotted. The whole “honor system” of hockey dictates this.
It is unfortunate that Briere was possibly injured on this play (some Pens fans said that Briere was “gutless” for walking away from the fight, but turns out he actually left to go down the runway because he was hurt), but the hit was clean. And yes, sometimes clean hits result in injures. Unintended consequence.
As for the whole “Crosby never gets called on anything” I didn’t see all of the game, but I did see him get away with the slashing move, which I am assuming may have had something to do with Schenn trying to even that score. But, he should have had a penalty. When the Pens played the Flyers in February, the officiating during that game was just a disgrace. Both teams getting called for seemingly made-up penalties, make-up calls, missed calls…the officiating in the league this year is and inconsistent mess. Crosby should have served a penalty.
For more quotes from the post-game interviews, check out @emptynetters on Twitter. It seems like the Flyers actually took things in stride as part of the game, which I give them credit for. I think Laviolette overreacted breaking Talbot’s stick, so yes- Granato had every reason to argue with him for pulling that move if the pieces all landed on the Pens bench.
What happened at the end of the game honestly should have been expected all things considered. We see this all the time: team is down, so things get chippy and before you know it, everyone on the ice is at each other’s throats.
The playoffs are going to be interesting…and we still have to play Philly again on Saturday. Think that game might start like the Rangers/Devils game did March 19? I hope not.
The Flyers know how to get inside the Pens heads. I’ve said before, these are not the Broad Street Bullies of days of yore. They know how to throw you off your game and the Pens played into it quite a bit this year. Get disciplined and start responding on the score board.
If you are interested, here are the penalties from the incident (sorry, it’s not like Lavs had a set of angels on the ice at this time either…)