May 7, 2008

More Anti-Pens Garbage

Below in italics is an article I found today on from what I can perceive is a Flyer fan that is quite the biased preview. I mean, you're writing for Fox Sports, not a Philly-centric website like The 700 Level. My responses are found in bold.

There are some people around the National Hockey League who think that the the-powers-that-be really, actually wanted to see a Canadian team win the Cup for the first time in 15 years.

Really? You'd have to be silly to believe that. The league would have loved a New York-Detroit series to capture that high American television rating it so desires.

But despite some pretty dicey calls during their second-round series (think about the physics of how a puck could possibly shot down on a goalie to tuck right under the crossbar yet somehow was not touched by a high stick), the Flyers did away with that dream in quick order.

Ah yes, the ole "We prevailed against the refs/league" theory.

Meanwhile, over in the Rangers–Penguins second round series, anyone with functional eyes could see the NHL’s brightest star, Sidney Crosby, flailing his arms and losing his footing at every choice opportunity to draw penalties. He often actually succeeding in fooling the most established of NHL referees, and he wasn't the only Penguin to benefit from some dubious calls.

Flailing his arms? When? And yes, it is easy to lose your footing when a 220+lbs defenseman takes his hand off his stick and pushes you.

In the series-deciding game, Ryan Malone from the Pens clipped Chris Drury in the face and drew significant volumes of blood yet somehow no call was made and the game was lost by one goal. Conspiracy theorists start your engines, because this tomfoolery will not end when Philly and Pittsburgh square off starting this Thursday night.

Sure, that was a blatant missed call, but the reason the Rangers lose the series? Definitely not. Get over yourself. Oh, and you'll be disappointed if you tune in Thursday night looking for Pens-Flyers, since, you know, it's starts on Friday.

Amazingly, the Flyers come into a series with their in-state rivals in a wonderful position. Unlike most years in Philly, nobody thought the Flyers could get to where they are, and they are certainly not done learning, growing, and fighting as a team to realize their potential. Unlike past Flyers teams and most every year’s Eagles teams – the Flyers are playing in a consequence-free environment much as a golfer always performs better in a “scramble” tournament, where each shot isn’t so pressing.

I don't think the Flyers and their fans are just happy to be in the Conference Finals. Sure, no one probably expected it, but when you're four wins away from a chance at the Stanley Cup, every shot is pressing.

“Why not win?” is this team’s mantra. Blow a two-goal lead – “who cares?” – we’ve won like that before. Down a few goals? We have the firepower to fight back. Moreover, the Flyers have the mental advantage over Pittsburgh in that many on the team think that by benching Crosby for the last game of the regular season, Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien was purposefully tanking to avoid playing the bruising Flyers: especially the angry Derian Hatcher who is always looking for a certain number 87 wearing yellow. Paul Holmgren says there is no way the Penguins tanked to avoid the Flyers to instead play the flailing Senators. Conspiracy theorists, back to your blogs.

I don't think any of the Flyers believe Pittsburgh "tanked" that last game to avoid a playoff match-up with them. And you want to say Derian Hatcher is always looking for No. 87? Really? Was it not Hatcher that Crosby victimized his first two years in the league? Remember Hatcher breaking a few of Sid's teeth, then the kid scoring the game winning goal? Do you remember No. 87 lifting the stick of Hatcher and scoring on a backhand to notch a hat-trick?

The Flyers have to know that their early-season suspensions and Broad Street Bullies reputation from over 30 years ago will likely follow them into this series. Crosby will dive until some referee makes a point of calling him for it and he stops. The Flyers’ number two power play in the regular season could make that meaningful point with a few pucks behind Fleury if so desired.

I don't think the "Broad Street Bullies" rep would follow them into the series. The numerous suspensions from this past season will. And again with Crosby diving? How many straws are you grasping at?

And with the dead and rotting carcasses of Washington and Montreal waiting for burial, the Flyers have every reason to believe they can beat (and beat up) a young and highly talented Pittsburgh team. For every Crosby, they know they could shut down an Ovechkin. For every Gonchar, there is a Markov or Mike Green hitting the links and working on his short game.

So what's their answer for a Malkin, a Whitney, a Hossa, a Malone, or a Sykora? There may be too many weapons for Philadelphia to stop.

At the same time, the Flyers must crank up their preparation to another level if they have plans on playing in the Finals against one of the powerhouse teams from the West. The idea of blowing a game like they did in Game One versus Montreal isn’t going to fly when you are eight playoff wins from hoisting the hardware. The Flyers need to adopt the idea of playing the game with high energy without gross stupidity (see: Derian Hatcher's hit on Francis Bouillon).


The refs will be looking for reasons to get Crosby, Malkin and Hossa on the power play, and so ultimate discipline will be an absolute key to the series. If the Flyers can accomplish this, there is no reason the league shouldn’t be calling PETA to report some animal abuse, because the Penguins can be beaten. My call is the Flyers in six games.

Still with this penalty nonsense? Already setting up excuses? Look, I'm not stupid enough to believe that the Flyers have no chance. They're playing well. Riding a hot goaltender and two great forwards in Daniel Briere and RJ Umberger. But, how do you give a preview without even mentioning some of the Penguins strengths and just focusing on the Flyers? Where's Marc-Andre Fleury or Pittsburgh's newfound defensive juggernaut mentioned?

This "Sidney bias" flu seems to be going around the league, which I have yet to understand. Sure, Crosby is the league's brightest young star and marketing chip, but Pittsburgh is not a prime television market like a New York or Chicago or Los Angeles. With substandard Stanley Cup Final television ratings the last two years, it would behoove the league to wish for one of those teams to make it all the way.

Having Crosby in the Finals would definitely help the league marketing-wise, but ask the NBA and it's television partners about having their poster boy, LeBron James, going for a title last season. Oh, that's right: "record low ratings" and it doesn't matter that it was a sweep. No one tuned in Game One or Game Four.

Ballhype: hype it up!


Scotty Hockey said...

The only thing I will say about this one is that if the league truly cared about ratings, it wouldn't be on Versus. Even if the game-by-game numbers suffered on ESPN2, the cross-promotion and added "news" coverage meant more eyes on the game every day.

Hip said...

I think it's funny that they compared Mike Green to Gonchar.

Ummm let's see him do it for more than one season first ok?

Koz said...

The Flyers are grossly overmatched and any suggestion otherwise is a grasp at straws.

A Penguins win is not a foregone conclusion, but the Flyers winning this series would have to be considered a considerable upset (though certainly not one of epic proportions).

The 5-3 regular season advantage is definitely laughable as previously mentioned by several folks when it is the sentence after a whole paragraph of accusations of tanking games. The Pens are the best team since January 1 and the Flyers played their best hockey of the season before the new year (recent success notwithstanding).

It's one thing to eke out a 7 game series and beat up on a rattled young goaltender, but it will take far more than the Flyers have exhibited in these playoffs so far to defeat Pittsburgh.

Johnny Wrath said...

I can't believe that junk is a Nationally syndicated publication. This whole Sid dives constantly thing does seem to have spread, if for no other reason than its the only criticism of his game they hope will stick with the fans.

I also can't believe the experts are claiming the goal tending is "about even", that "you can throw those numbers out", and that the defence is comparable in any way. Very seldom do the pundits dig deeper than to make a Timonen/Gonchar contrasting statement before moving back to glorifying Philly's underdog spirit.

Great cross-sections Sean, and I'll be looking back at articles like these when we've blown out the Flyers in 5.

JonnyP said...

My Thoughts:

1) Sidney Crosby is great for the league ... everyone either loves him or hates him.

2) The Penguins in the finals in great for the game ... this is a young team that shows signs of the Oilers of old.

3) How sick is a line of Ovechkin - Fedorov - Semin at the World Championships?

4) If the NHL cared about who won a certain series, then Philly would have lost to the Caps.

5) As soon as Flyers fans stop trying to dispell stereotypes that are obviously true, the world will be a better place to live.

6) Work is overrated ... unless I can get paid to play soccer or hockey for a living.

7) I'm not sure I like the new DC United jerseys yet ... I'm going to have to check out the VW logo on them up close.


bigredbaer said...

First off, this pisses me off beyond all. It's ridiculous to think that a 20-year-old KID should be called for diving if he is getting pushed around by a MAN that outweighs him by over 30-pounds, on average. He is ON SKATES! He's going to lose an edge. The Rangers started all this diving garbage (in the playoffs at least), and I never saw so many guys lose their footing in a series. Especially Jags.

Anyways, I agree with most of what you rebuffed, except one thing. I still believe that the Malone-Drury high sticking was not Malone's fault and that it, in-fact, was a brilliant non-call. If you look at the replay, you can see Bugsy's stick being lifted, inadvertantly, by a Ranger player. He had control of his stick. To me, it would be the same as if Malone was going for a puck, a Ranger lifted his stick to take the puck away, and Malone's stick came up and struck a guy. The Rangers player inadvertantly used Malone's stick to clip his own player. No penalty.

That's my take on it.