He has twenty goals and twenty six assists in twenty six regular season games against the Flyers. His team has eliminated Philadelphia from the post season two years in a row. He has successfully surpassed Martin Brodeur as one of the most hated and feared Flyers' opponents of all time. I'm going to ask you a very simple question... and I'll give you a hint. The answer is not Ed Snider. Who pwns the Philadelphia Flyers?
I've written before about our hatred for Sidney Crosby. This was long before I watched his performance against the Flyers in the opening round last year and continued to watch him on the way to the Cup. During said elimination, I wrote about the quickly widening gap between our interstate franchises. Crosby and Malkin have reached an all new level in their game. The team they play for followed suit last summer and now they have their names permanently etched on Lord Stanley's Cup. Before Mike Richards. Before Jeff Carter. Before any of the Philadelphia Flyers that have taken to the ice post-1975.
It was a sickening feeling, watching the Penguins win last year, but not in a "he doesn't deserve this" sort of way. Crosby did things to our team in that opening round that I still can't believe. In the following games against opponents like the Caps and the Hurricanes, his tenacity around the net was unmatched. It seemed that anytime another player took their game to a new level... he or Malkin ramped their game up just one notch higher.'
In evaluation of the matchup for tonight's game, I came to the conclusion that Jeff Carter and Mike Richards will never be as talented as Sid the Kid. He's all world/all universe. They will also never win the cup BEFORE Crosby or Malkin. The time for that oppurtunity has passed. What they can do, is try to outwork the dynamic duo from Western Pa for the rest of their careers and hope that a solid team effort added to whatever greatness they can achieve on a personal basis will be enough to get them a Cup. And in doing that, keep it from 87 and 71 till they're eventually split up or traded out of the East.
The trade for Chris Pronger was a blatant move to close that widening gap between our two Pa franchises. Holmgren hopes that Pronger/Carle and Timonen/Coburn can negate the Crosby/Malkin effect. Tonight is our first look at this defensive experiment. So the mission, if the Flyers' young (and old) leaders choose to accept it... is to shut down the Pens and take game 1 in the season series. Baby steps... if you will, to reclaiming the pwnership of this franchise.
Injuries: Betts is out with a dislocated shoulder, one that's keeping him from raising his arm to get an MRI. Homer says one month... sounds pretty bad. JVR might miss this first matchup against the Pens for precautionary reasons. It wasn't a concussion and he passed all his tests, but time and time again "head injuries" prove to be as mysterious and unpredictable as how Great White Sharks reproduce. Look for an injection of tough in the lineup courtesy of Asham, Cote and Tollefson. I'm expecting a 30% increase in penalties taken, which after losing your top PK man, isn't good.
Sergei Gonchar played just 25 regular season games and was banged up against the Caps in the post season last year. He's back, and healthy and of major concern to the Flyers. The Pens lost Scuderi and Gill to higher bidders in the off season.