Here's a conundrum I was faced with, going into tonight's game: if a rivalry is one-sided, is it fun anymore?
The answer is of course. Of course it's fun. As long as you're on the good side of the rivalry, there is nothing more fun. I mean, honestly, what's better than mercilessly mocking the people you hate? Nothing is better than that. I know from experience.
I felt like we, as fans, had been spoiled for great Flyers/Pens games for a while, so I went into tonight expecting the Penguins to finally break this streak of losses against the Flyers. Regrettably, and for once, reality lived up to my expectations.
Despite a lackluster start, with broken up cross-ice passes and very little offensive zone time for the Flyers, they opened up the game with a power play goal from Brayden Schenn. It was a great little rebound for him, cleaning up all the trash in front of the net. From that point on, it seemed like they had woken up marginally They began to control play, keeping the Penguins more concerned with denying the Flyers opportunities more than creating their own. It was cool, I was happy. Times were simple, and the laughter came easy.
In that old familiar Penguins fashion, once the ball was rolling in the Flyers favor, it seemed as though it would just keep on rolling. The Penguins managed to get stuck with a hooking call in the offensive zone, which was so funny and awesome. Really loved that one. (In reality, it was a pretty soft call, but I like soft calls when they go in favor of the Flyers. Otherwise, not so much.)
The Flyers managed to take a 2-0 lead off that power play, and oh boy, was it a pretty one. You know those power play cross-ice passes Giroux always tries to get through to Voracek? You know how it hasn't worked in "four years", according to Voracek? It worked tonight! It was gorgeous. The pass landed cleanly on Voracek's tape, and once he moved to the slot, you just knew something beautiful was about to happen. It's like when a puppy is in a vine. You're just like "oh shit, what cute great thing is that puppy gonna do." Great goal.
It seemed for a while as if the Penguins were falling back into their old ways. I loved when I thought that. Unfortunately, however, it did not stay that way! Good things rarely stay, because much like bad things, they are ephemeral.
Giving up high danger chance after high danger chance, the Flyers managed to escape unscathed (or at least, not scored against) by the skin of their teeth. Like someone smarter than me would say, those kinds of things are rarely sustainable. Ryan White fucked up pretty majorly on one shift, as he is wont to do, making an ill-advised pass into the center of the ice instead of just clearing the friggin' zone. Then he took a penalty! Right as the first period was ending! Because that's what Ryan White does sometimes. He forgets he's supposed to do the smart things and avoid the dumb things. It's okay, Ryan. Sometimes I forget too.
The second period began with White in the box and a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. Fehr, who has a ridiculous name, stepped in front of Mason and provided the perfect screen so that Trevor Daley's shot from the point made it past Steven easily. 2-1, Flyers. Not time to panic, I told myself. How silly and naïve I was.
For lack of a better simile, the Flyers soon began to stink like a quickly rotting corpse in the sun. Lots of turnovers, very little sustained pressure in the offensive zone, a heavy reliance on dump and chase. It was not fun to experience as a fan, so I imagine it must have been even less fun for the actual members of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team.
Crosby scored to capitalize on all of the bad feelings, emotions, and energy (and also the lazy and sloppy play). It was a really nice goal, but who gives a shit? I don't like him, and I'm not here to congratulate him on being him. That's his mom's job. The game was tied.
At this point, the announcers wouldn't shut up about momentum, which, coupled with my screaming, was enough to give me a low serotonin migraine. Phil Kessel scored on the powerplay, giving the Pens their first lead of the game and giving me my first opportunity to hate Phil Kessel vehemently. This did not help my migraine. I was beginning to see spots.
The Flyers did, however, get a power play to end the period. They took a majority of that power play time into the break. I hoped that perhaps someone would light incense in the locker room to perhaps change the energy. They've been able to comeback in the third before! Maybe they could do it again!
Such an innocent, silly child I am sometimes.
They didn't score on the power play, because life is hard. Also, the Flyers gave up another goal to Phil Kessel which was obnoxious and dumb. Time passed with not much happening on either side. Or at least, I didn't notice, because I was dejected. Claude Giroux eventually scored to get the Flyers within one, lighting a small spark of hope in my cold, dead heart, but it was not to be.
Some happy things and some other things:
- The Flyers scored first tonight, extending that streak to eight games. It certainly seems like the slow starts are remedied. Keeping a lead, well, that's another story.
- Mason had a good game. He let up four goals, but I don't know that anyone could have saved 'em. I mean, if you're making your goalie stop numerous odd-man rushes and make stupid impossible saves on the penalty kill, I don't care who's in the net, some are gonna make it through. The guy is a workhorse and pretty much had to be out-of-his-mind perfect if the Flyers were to win this one. Don't be mean to him.
- Man, how good is Sean Couturier. I mean, we didn't get to see him play, but if this is how the Flyers manage to limp along without him, he must be a friggin' juggernaut. Give the kid an award already.
- Gagner was recalled! That's something. He managed to draw a penalty, which was cool of him. I think he played okay, but what the shit do I know? Form your own opinions. Don't trust The Man. Never stop asking questions.
- On the special teams side of things, the power play went 3 for 6 while the penalty kill went 2 for 4. Neither was good enough to save a poor effort at 5-on-5, and welp, that's why we're in this position.
- Marc-Andre Fleury's pads are so overrated and terrible. I just wanted you all to know that I think this.
- Apparently the Penguins play Sexual Healing as their win song. That is certainly a Choice.
- Dang, how wild was that last minute of play? The Flyers legitimately could have tied this game. How insane is that. After all the shit they pulled, after a completely awful effort, they still could have won this game, or at least tied it up to grab a point of it it. That's pretty cool, isn't it? The Flyers are still hanging in there. They have every opportunity to keep stealing games. I am weirdly optimistic right now.
- Okay, and maybe it would have been fun to beat the Penguins and extend the streak, but look at it this way: now the next time they play, a bunch of Penguins fans are gonna be all haughty and smug and shit, and we'll get to be even more annoying when we kick their ass then. Nothing better than sad Pens fans. We'll get to see those sooner rather than later, I promise.
Tonight didn't go the way we wanted, but hey, at least it made the rivalry competitive again. Flyers grinding again this Saturday against the Islanders. Go Fly boys.
Five word summation: Hello darkness, my old friend.
Comment of the night: