Below in italics is an article I found today on FoxSports.com 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.