I don't typically start off an article with a video, but I've seen this Dan Bylsma post-game interview a half dozen times and it just does not get old --
"I want to congratulate the Flyers and their organization on the series win, but I can't really wish them good luck, though..." Bylsma says in front of an orchestra of media heads.
Now, there were a bunch of Philadelphians who believed this to be in poor taste. I beg to differ. Look, he congratulated our boys on a QuarterFinals victory. A series that had more drama infused in itself than an episode of The View when the hosts are menstruating simultaneously.
We're lucky just to get his acclaim.
After six games like that, we're all glad it's over. We're glad that we don't have to see Crosby's face every ten seconds. We're glad that we don't have to witness James Neal and Evgeni Malkin continually get away with subtle head-shots that we all know won't get looked at by the Department of Player Safety. We're glad that we don't have to breath in and out of a paper bag as Pittsburgh built up (what seemed to be) a possible 0 - 3 comeback. And most of all, we're glad we don't have to listen to the experts and their silly predictions any longer --
(Image Source: Joe Gillespie)
Not that I gave a damn one way or the other, but virtually everyone and their mothers had the Pens winning this series against our boys. If they weren't doing it in 5-games, then the Pens will certainly oust the Orange & Black in 6 or 7-games, they said.
Each and every single naysayer underestimated one player.
A 24yr old kid who defied a collected professional prediction that all but had the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final.
Claude Giroux --
Just 5-seconds into Game 6, Claude Giroux did two things:
- He set the tone for HIS team's victory, and...
- He did the hockey planet (minus Pittsburgh's faithful) a favor by planting Sid The Child through the ice surface with a booming body-check.
Then at the 00:32 mark (23-seconds later), Giroux threw the puck on a burning rope which lit the game's first lamp, and the Flyers never looked back.
Through the remaining 59-minutes, 28-seconds of regulation, Philadelphia managed to apply pressure on Pittsburgh's brawn, only allowing one goal past their guard which came off a shorthanded breakaway chance in the Penguins' end.
Evgeni Malkin -- a man so physically grotesque that his face could put the brakes on an orgy of Ewoks -- skated into the Playoffs as the 2011-12's leading points-scorer.
Though he potted his share of pucks throughout the QuarterFinals, there's no denying he was shutdown by a 19yr old rookie forward, Sean Couturier, who managed to limit the Penguin ogre to three goals in six games, and Game 6's only Pittsburgh tally.
But it wasn't just the almighty gridlocking effort from one man in orange. Sunday's victory is thanks to this team's best effort all season long, through each second of the game.
The Flyers blocked an astounding 40-shots, while Bryzgalov took care of 30 of the 31-pucks sent on his net (0.968 SV%) --
The nail in the coffin came off the stickblade of called-up defenseman Erik Gustafsson who was filling in for a still-injured Niklas Grossmann.
Gus carried the puck over the Penguins' blue line and flicked a wrister that surprisingly beat Marc-Andre Fleury gloveside. It took the air right out of the Flightless Pigeons' balloon --
Though it was Malkin who managed to cut into the Flyers 3 - 0 lead with a power-play goal, a combination of continued pressure, Danny Briere's fluky 5-hole shot and Brayden Schenn's empty netter sent the Penguins packing for the golf course.
Pittsburgh had been playing desperate since Game 4 which obviously tipped to their favor for two straight contests. Yesterday's Game 6 did not lack similar desperation for the Pens, however this time it was just as imminent for Philadelphia to skate away victorious. We did not want to take this to Game 7 in Pittsburgh.
Not only did they accept the challenge, but the Flyers -- with unitized heart and dominance -- put their state rivals away in epic fashion. And it's notable that they did so on the scoreboard, and not with any cheap shots aimed at their star players' skulls.
Unfortunately I cannot say the same for Penguin forwards Evgeni Malkin and James Neal who continued to head-hunt our boys throughout Sunday's tilt.
But bygones be bygones.
We don't have to worry about a team of sore-losing cowards any longer. They're currently in our wake, festering in the gloriousness that Philadelphia's labeled a series and moral victory.
A Pittsburgh Club that resorts to dangerous and illegal actions on the ice when they don't get their way. Whether it be a shot to our players' heads, a swung stick across the back of our superstar's legs, or any one of the thousand degenerate infractions we witnessed go uncalled through this series.....it's all behind us, and left to the Penguins to chew on for the next 5-months.
Time to move on. Time to focus on the SemiFinals.
The vision and glimmer of the Stanley Cup is now on our horizon. Make no mistake, it's not in reach. We still have eight more wins to even get a taste. But we've proven the experts wrong. We've burned expectations to basement floors of every skeptic. Our season's stars are no flukes.
This is business. This is cutthroat hockey.
This is a mission for the Stanley Cup.
Good night, GREAT HOCKEY!
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