There are bad losses…. and then there was last night.
The Flyers were as ill-prepared for the start of the playoffs as any team I have ever seen. It was as embarrassing to watch as I’m sure it was to participate.
Sure, it’s easy to say it’s just one game and that the Penguins could win 20-0 or 3-2 and it all counts the same… blah, blah, blah – shove that crap logic right back down your gullet from whence it came.
The fact of the matter was something emphatically pointed out yesterday – the Penguins are a playoff-tested team and the Flyers are not yet ready for prime time.
From the guys dressed in suits to the guys wearing skates, there wasn’t one person prepared for the avalanche that was coming their way.
The Flyers seemed to think this series was going to start a lot more like a boxing match – where the first round is a bit of a feeling out process. Throw a couple jabs, take a couple, and really get a sense of how each team is going to play before it settles in.
Uh, that was an epic misread on their part.
Instead, the Penguins were like, “screw that” and came out of the gates like the thoroughbred team they are, and didn’t stop. And won’t stop.
I know a lot of you younger folks are skeptical when us graybeards tell you that experienced teams and talented teams know how to elevate their game to a whole new level and that young teams often have a hard time matching that.
I know it’s a very old school way of thinking because we live in a world where the younger generations are a bunch of doubting Thomases and need empirical evidence for absolutely everything before they even consider accepting a statement as true, or even mostly true (you ever watch the news with the fact-checkers? They need to qualify something as mostly true or mostly false and can’t just accept true or false with qualifiers anymore… it’s maddening…. OK, back to hockey).
Anyway… when we say players are “red light players” or that they can just “flip the switch” and dominate games because we’ve seen it, we mean it.
And if you want empirical evidence, I give you the Pittsburgh Penguins last night.
That, friends, is what great teams can do. I hate to admit it, because there’s a lot of things I really don’t like about the Penguins…
(For example, and this is not indicative of anything, but just an anecdote I will share – after the game last night, a Philadelphia reporter was chastised by members of the Penguins public relations staff for accidentally stepping on the Penguins logo in their locker room because it’s “bad luck.”
This isn’t the first time this has happened, and to be fair, the Penguins are not alone with this, as other teams have this asinine tradition, too.
And you know what I say to these teams and the members of the logo-protecting Gestapo that they employ? If you don’t want someone stepping on your logo, then don’t put it on the damn floor! And seriously, it’s a freaking piece of carpet, you morons. It’s not like it’s some old heirloom from underneath Sidney Crosby’s dryer that he used to shoot pucks into in Nova Scotia growing up – as if it was some sort of sign from above that he was destined to lead the Penguins to Stanley Cup glory, no… it’s new. It was put in when the building opened a few years back. It has no historical value whatsoever. It’s a rug. Stop being so bleeping self-righteous about it. Damn.)
… but the Penguins are a great team.
Yes, I said on the Snow the Goalie podcast (subscribe/rate/review… thanks!) that they aren’t the same Penguins team that won the last two Stanley Cups. And their depth is good, but not as good as previous years. Their defense is pedestrian and goalie Matt Murray has been shaky all season.
And yet, in Game 1, they looked every bit as dominant as they were the last two seasons.
As is always the case in the playoffs, you can throw all your analysis (old school eye tests and new school analytics, both) out the window because it’s a different game. It’s a different season. And none of that stuff from the regular season really matters.
Great teams know how to win. Especially against not-so-great teams. Sadly for Flyers fans, the local boys in orange and black are the latter.
Everything that has plagued the Flyers for the past three months, three years, hell, three decades, was on display last night.
Here are five of them: