Forget about the "Comeback Kids". Forget about the majority of our goals scored in the 2nd and 3rd frames. If our boys want to skate away from tonight (and this series) victorious, then it's all about lighting the contest's first lamp.
Forget about winning the division series during the regular season, 4 - 2. This is the Playoffs, a new breed of ice hockey which demands a whole other level of intensity from its participants.
Make no mistake, the Pittsburgh Penguins will be ready. This won't start and end like any tilt throughout 82-game schedule. Each skater and twine-sitter is chomping at the bit, and will no doubt spill 100% of themselves all over the ice.
Hesitation will get us murdered. That's why it's very important to get on the board first, which has been an incredible weakness for the Flyers.
Sidney Crosby has 30-goals and 52-assists (82pts) in 62-career Playoff games.
Evgeni Malkin's numbers are 29-goals and 44-assists (73pts) in 62-career Playoff games.
Obviously those two stars will be Philadelphia's largest concern. But one other Penguin to keep an eye on is left winger James Neal.
Neal's 40-goals, 41-assists throughout the season are outstanding numbers. The most he's ever scored in his NHL tenure. The man's on fire and rolling into the Playoffs with a head full of steam.
But what makes him extra dangerous is the fact he's only played in a grand total of seven post-season games in his four year professional career. He's starving for Playoff success.
These three forwards will be the biggest matter to equalize -- not just early in the game, but -- all series long. They WILL score. There's no doubt about that. But the question is when, and what goal-cushion do the Flyers possess.
Early goals, people. It's going to be our lifeblood.
"Yea, they're great. But, who are we? A group of amateurs?"
Not at all. Our Orange & Black possesses the League's most dangerous amalgamation of rookie players. Matt Read, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier have shown NO signs of being intimidated. Not by their lack of NHL experience. Not by any one or more star, opposing players. Nothing. Nadda.
These baby-faced Titans will hit the Pittsburgh ice just as determined as (if not, more than) the Penguins brawn.
Niklas Grossmann and Daniel Briere will be back on the active roster since experiencing their injuries in the same contest against the Penguins just 10-days ago.
The re-addition of Briere's awareness and (hopefully) history of Playoff dominance, and Grossmann's physicality at the blue line strengthens our chances at both ends of the ice even further.
Claude Giroux's 13-goals and 25-assists (38pts) in his 40-career Playoff games will no doubt grow in numbers dramatically as his skill-level and role on this Flyers squad has greatly expanded in the passing League-year.
Our hallowed grinders, Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell, are thundering into the Showdown with career years setting fire to their coattails. Their continuing success is a necessity, and will certainly carry forward into the QuarterFinals.
Last night, from our Facebook fanpage, I posted a motivational happenstance (if you will) that I'm more than happy to repeat here and now --
Maybe I'm over exaggerating, but this series beginning tomorrow is much larger than just another Flyers, Penguins series. It's much, much bigger now. Roenick, Milbury, Berube, Laviolette, Cherry and Tortorella have all lashed out and created an icy super storm.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are finally the bad guys. We have the support from fanbases league-wide.
This reminds me of the Bullies taking on the Russians in the '70s. Only there were more players on that Commie squad who could call themselves men.
Heart & Brotherhood rise over raw talent any day. Let the professionals make their predictions. Let the League hinder and fine those sick and tired enough to speak the pure truth.
And finally, let our boys in orange go out there and put these sons a bitches into the arena's basement. We got a goddamn series to win, and it'll be epic. Every single second of it.
"I wanna see people rip their heart out of their fuckin' chest..." ~ Laviolette
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