The Pittsburgh-Philadelphia hockey rivalry has been growing stronger since Jaromir Jagr joined the Flyers for this season. The games between the two teams have featured physical play, great goal scoring, fights and of course, the usual trash talk.
With all the hype surrounding the Penguins-Flyers games this season, it’s only fitting that the first team Pittsburgh must pass through on their way to Lord Stanley would be their in-state rivals. The plots going into this series not only feature the rivalry of players like Crosby, Malkin and Jagr, but also of the coaches. Throw in the added comments from Mike Milbury, and we have ourselves a playoff circus.
Whether or not the Penguins have a more-talented team than they Flyers going into this series is immaterial. Philadelphia has proved itself to be the toughest customer for the Penguins this season. In fact, up until the game ended Saturday, Pittsburgh had yet to beat Philadelphia in Consol Energy Center. That win was important for many reasons. The first and foremost being that they proved to themselves that they could beat the Flyers on home ice. The second, that they now have the momentum going into the series. And last, but not least, they have home-ice advantage.
The Penguins run into problems when they let Philadelphia dominate the style of play. Saturday’s game saw the Penguins stick to their system, and the outcome was desired. When they stick to their game and don’t get caught up in the distractions Philadelphia has to offer, they win.
Pittsburgh needs to make sure that they remain focused on the goal, and not get caught up with all the trash talking that their in-state rivals will bring to the table.