Wayne Simmonds stood in shorts and a t-shirt in the hallway, ready to congratulate his teammates with a fist bump. His arms were folded and he didn’t look happy, even though his team just went up 3-0 in the series and won the game 8-4. An under-dressed Zac Rinaldo joined him. Scott Hartnell too. There were almost as many Flyers returning to the locker room as there were players who had been ejected. Such is Flyers-Penguins hockey.
“I don’t know if it was as physical as it was dirty,” Danny Briere said. “You saw the hatred, you saw the frustration. I think it was more of that. I saw a couple of cheap shots when guys weren’t looking, but I think it’s mostly the rivalry that had a lot to do with the team today.”
By the time it was over, there were 158 penalty minutes. Kimmo Timonen recorded his first career fight against Kris Letang. Sidney Crosby dropped the gloves with Claude Giroux.
“It was more of a wrestling match,” Giroux said, “but that’s part of hockey.”
There were a lot of amendments to the definition of “hockey” in Game 3, apparently. James Neal drilled a defenseless Sean Couturier late in the third period, which sparked a melee that resulted in 15 penalties assessed to 10 different players.
“If you can hit guys without the puck nowadays, that’s dangerous,” Timonen said. “I understand the rough game. I understand the guys with the puck you can hit. I love the rough game, but when guys don’t have the puck and you hit them blindsided, I don’t understand that. The league should get on that.”
The Flyers feel the Penguins initiated that kind of play and while that may be old-time Broad Street Bully hockey, that’s not how the Flyers want to win. Predictably, the Penguins don’t see it the same way.
“You know what, there’s more than one team getting in those things, so you can make a story if you want about us getting frustrated,” Crosby said. “We’re playing playoff hockey. They’re doing the same things we are.
“Now we know what we gotta do. We gotta win a hockey game. That’s what it comes down to.”
For the Flyers, the key appears to be having discipline on Wednesday night, when they could finish the Penguins off in a clean sweep in Game 4.
“We’ve been talking about it the whole series,” Timonen said. “We’re not gonna get any favors from the referees or the league or whatever. We have to be the ones who stay disciplined. I thought we did a pretty good job of that and it looks like they’re not.
“If they think they’re gonna win that way, it’s not working for them.”