Reporting Bob Pompeani
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers is a playoff series that many people think should be an Eastern Conference Final, and not a first round series.
Both teams finished with more than 100 points, and there is the natural in-state rivalry, and then there is the gamesmanship that comes with two teams that respect, but do not like each other.
Even though the Penguins ended the regular season with more points, the Flyers had more wins against the Penguins head to head.
It was all capped off when Joe Vitale injured Daniel Briere with a legal check that led to a Flyer eruption and an all-out brawl, as well as some name calling, most of it focused on Sidney Crosby.
“I don’t really need any extra motivation to be honest with you,” said Crosby, the Penguins’ captain. “It’s not anything that really changes the way I approach the game or anything like that. Those are tactics that I’ve seen for a long time, even before I got to the NHL, so some things never change and that’s one of them.”
Max Talbot was on the other Penguins side of this rivalry for several years, and even though he’s switched sides, the passion has not changed.
“The emotion is always going to be there because depending on what happened or not during the season, it’s still a big rivalry and it’s still a strong matchup and it’s still the battle of Pennsylvania; so I don’t think you need things like the last game that happened to bring some emotion in the playoff series,” said Talbot.
“Both organizations have had strong years and you’re in a first round matchup so… I think that puts a little bit more hype into the series itself,” said Peter Laviolette, the Flyers’ coach.
Both injured Flyers, Briere and Nicklas Grossmann will play tonight. Briere has been one of the most productive post-season players in Flyers history…
The goaltending matchup will be Marc-Andre Fleury against Ilya Bryzgalov.