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Penguins 4, Flyers 1: Way to win one, the refs

The Flyers lost and it was not fun.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Guys, I don’t like the Pittsburgh Penguins.

It’s true that I don’t make this very known. In fact, I prefer not to talk about it. I can assure all of you that I have never tweeted insults about Sidney Crosby’s face, nor have I once compared him to a tub of miracle whip left out in the sun for eight hours. I like to keep such things to myself. That is the rational and mature thing to do.

However, I have to admit, this game got to me. It made me feel things about the Pittsburgh Penguins that I have not felt in some time. Violent disgust. Pure, unfiltered hatred. I had forgotten what it was like to feel these things about a hockey team that wasn’t my own, but of course, I remember now.

I did my best to be objective here, as I know that is something you folks rely on me for, but I am only human. I hate when the Flyers lose. I hate it when point streaks are snapped. I hate when I am forced to look upon Evgeni Malkin’s face. I hate that song about clapping that always comes on after whistles. That’s a bad song, and if I didn’t like watching the Flyers, I wouldn’t even know it existed, as I am a millennial who doesn’t listen to the radio. This sucked the life out of me.

Here is a tweet that sums up pretty succinctly how I felt about this entire game:

It has been well over a month since I have even needed to think about the existence of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and this first period reminded me of what a blessing that was to experience. Good God, I hate this team. I feel in my heart a deep and violent rage that is, I feel, completely inexpressible.

The Flyers went to the man advantage early as Nick Bjugstad, who is ugly, was penalized for delay of game at 1:17. Once again, you all know how I feel about this penalty. Frankly it is very dumb and should be removed from the sport of hockey, but not today, folks, not today. The power play that followed was sorely lacking a ‘wow’ factor, and although I have made a personal promise that I was no longer going to sink into a writhing fatalist abyss every time the Flyers look less-than-great, I found myself positively incensed.

I’ll dial it back. Okay, I’m sorry, I’m dialing it back right now. It’s just, like, the Penguins. God.

The first period saw the Flyers with a ton of chances that they just couldn’t bury. Such is the way of things, I guess. Oskar Lindblom seemed snake-bitten, as not once but twice on an odd-man rush he was stopped point-blank by Matt Murray, who is ugly.

Because we are all hurtling closer to death every second that we are alive, Sidney Crosby, who is ugly, gave the Penguins the lead at 8:19. This was, frankly, an odd play, and the type of thing that really can’t be blamed on one specific player. No one else knew where that puck was, least of all Carter Hart. I tried to be mad about this goal, but I felt nothing at all. This is a sponsored ad for Lamictal, My Mood Stabilizer.

The Flyers would go almost immediately to the penalty kill after this at 9:12, as Claude Giroux was sent off to the box for “tripping,” allegedly. I’m still not particularly worried about the penalty kill, and once again I was proven to be correct in my analysis.

Although they’ve gotten the results as of late, there were times over the past several games where the penalty kill was successful, if not exactly pretty. This was one I can happily say was actually a little bit sexy. Preventing the Penguins, who are ugly, from going up by two in the first, it was a pretty important kill for the momentum of the game. Or whatever. Sorry, I know I’m pretending to know hockey again.

The rest of the period would go by without another goal, but there was no shortage of chances for either team. It kept looking like the Flyers were going to score, and then they did not, but then it looked like they were going to again, and then they did not do that, either.

You guys, don’t force me to write about this game if you’re going to lose. Please don’t do that to me.

AFTER ONE: 1-0 Penguins, shots 9-8 Flyers; Penguins goal scored by Sidney Crosby (8:19)

The second period looked much like a repeat of the first, in that the Flyers had plenty of chances, but struggled with the finish. This is, of course, completely fine and not infuriating at all. For some reason, Matt Murray looked like some impenetrable fortress we could not solve, and bounces went every way except ours, like some karmic payback from a cosmic power for what happened in the first period of the Anaheim game.

Lindblom took an awkward spill near the Penguins bench, his head colliding with Jack Johnson’s knees, which are apparently made of solid iron. Play was stopped and Lindblom went down to the locker room, likely for concussion protocol. Godspeed, child.

For some unknown reason, the Penguins really wanted to keep gifting us power plays off of dumb penalty calls, and so Patric Hornqvist flung a puck over the glass and took a second delay of game penalty for the Penguins at 4:38. Well, okay.

The subsequent power play was, again, underwhelming. It seemed that there was something just not quite clicking with the boys tonight. Even though they showed plenty of offensive energy, getting their fair share of opportunities in the offensive zone, they simply looked a little off. Those games are bound to happen; no team is full-on every single night, but man, I would really like it if it did not have to happen against the Penguins. Don’t I deserve that?

A vengeful demigod would answer that query for me, allowing Bjugstad to score off the rush at 7:04. This was a goal that can certainly be pinned on defense, but Hart is also due for a mediocre game. They happen to the best of ‘em, I hear.

But hey, good news: Lindblom came back to the bench. Guess his brainium is doing just fine.

Jake Guentzel was called for tripping at 10:55, and once again the Flyers were sent to the power play, and once again they really couldn’t do much with it. Moving on.

There is one very dumb thing I will have to address, even though I do not want to, because it makes me genuinely furious. I have been trying to curb my (completely warranted, righteous) anger towards the sport of hockey, as I feel it isn’t what many would call “healthy” or “a measured response” (specifically my psychiatrist, who would tell me it is bad, actually). But man. Oh man.

Nolan Patrick should have had this goal. Full-stop, no kidding around, no funny business, he should have had this goal, and it is complete baloney that he did not. The referee whistled in a manner that can only be described as “maddeningly impulsive.” Murray did not have control of that puck, not for even a second. Seriously, what is this? Is Sidney Crosby slipping mayonnaise packets into the refs’ pockets during the TV timeouts? Fuck, man.

An incredibly vindicated “refs, you suck” chant began in the Wells Fargo Center, and I sat by myself at home and felt it within my bones, down to the marrow, at a molecular level.

AFTER TWO: 2-0 Penguins, shots 37-16 Flyers (I am not joking); Penguins goal scored by Nick Bjugstad (7:04)

I need a drink. In fact, I think I need many drinks.

Almost right away, Lindblom had another chance up close that did not go in. Of course, I am completely thrilled by this.

The game looked fairly by-rote at this point. No matter what the Flyers did, they could not solve Murray, despite doing their very best to pepper him with shots and try to get him to cave. The Flyers had 40 shots on goal just a few minutes into the third, but quantity/quality, you know the story.

Just when I started to think I’d not have a whole lot to write here, Guentzel scored a goal. Obviously, that was bound to happen. He went five-hole on Hart, who looked fairly out of position, if I had to be honest and unbiased (haha). Anyway.

With just a handful of minutes left in the game, it started to get a little bit spicy. Evgeni Malkin, taking advantage of his allocated One Dirty Dogshit Play of the game, deliberately slashed Michael Raffl in the face with the blade of his stick as retaliation for a, uh, mild shove to the back of the head? Sure. No one liked this one, least of all Jake Voracek and the refs, who decided to give Malkin a game misconduct. Wow, I wonder if he gets suspended! Lol!

The Penguins were given a five-minute major penalty, and yeah, the Flyers would spend the entire rest of the game on the power play. It did seem like a little bit too late, but hey, a lot can happen in five minutes, right?

Namely, Voracek could score a goal, which is exactly what he did at 15:26. The dude looked pretty pissed off when Malkin took the shot at Raffl, so this can be effectively called a revenge goal. I love seeing my boys looking out for each other out there after one of them nearly got his eyes torn out of their sockets by a guy that looks like Human Shrek.

With a couple minutes left in the game (and on the power play), the most ridiculous of penalties would be called. Just before the whistle was called on Murray covering up a puck, Giroux took an extra stab at it in the crease, drawing the ire of Guentzel, who then roughed him up behind the net. For no reason at all, Giroux would be called for slashing here at 18:46. The whistle had not been blown yet, which was maybe the first time all night Matt Murray didn’t get the benefit of a short whistle.

Guentzel took a matching penalty for roughing, and the Flyers were still left on the power play, but it left a sour taste in my mouth. I don’t know how these refs will be able to go home and look their families in the eyes and sleep comfortably. In fact, I believe I will be haunting them in the spiritual sense for the rest of their lives.

After some deliberating, the refs sent both Giroux and Guentzel down to the locker room, deciding effectively that a 3-1 game with two minutes left (on the power play, no less!) was completely unwinnable. These guys. I swear to God.

Anyway, it was unwinnable, but they didn’t know that. Kris Letang (ugly, bad) lobbed a bouncing puck towards the empty net, and that’s game, I guess.

There is some comfort to all of this, which is that no matter what he does, no matter how well he plays, no matter how many times he scores on us, regardless of his Stanley Cup rings, regardless of his success or his talent or his skill, Sidney Crosby will always be just wildly hideous in the mug area. That’s true, and I am brave to say it.


AFTER THREE: 4-1 Penguins, shots 51-28 Flyers; Penguins goals scored by Jake Guentzel (14:46) and Kris Letang (19:47), Flyers goal scored by Jake Voracek (15:26)

(I’m dropping this tweet here because it didn’t fit anywhere else in the article, but every time I am hating on the linesmen, I remember it, and it sparks joy.)