Sometimes hyped-up events are just that: all hype.
And sometimes they don’t disappoint. Enter the Penguins-Flyers Stanley Cup playoff series.
The matchup, deep in pure and extreme hatred, was billed as a UFC fight. And, after two highly entertaining — yet otherwise civil — games, chaos ensued Sunday in Game 3. The details are well-documented: 158 penalty minutes, eight ejections, eight Flyers goals (they’ve already broken the franchise record for goals in a single playoff series with 20) and an unbelievable personalized message from Hulk Hogan.
While some news outlets rush to judgment, the fans have spoken. They love fights.
The ratings for Sunday’s game were the NHL’s best for a playoff game since 2002. The Flyers-Pens drew a 2.3 overnight rating, just one shy of Game 1 between the Red Wings and Avalanche 10 years ago.
During the game itself, Flyers radio announcers Chris Therien and Tim Saunders were livid. Therien went on a rant where he channeled his inner Reg Dunlop and stopped just short of placing a bounty on Sidney Crosby. “Concussion or no concussion, punch him in the face as hard as you can.”
Flyers fans certainly echo that sentiment. On Sunday, they rained down, “Crosby Sucks!” chants, as well as an unforgettable, “You Can’t Beat Us!”
Crosby heard those chants and he doesn’t like you, either.
Perhaps the most interesting twist in this whole Pens-Flyers saga is that, for once, it’s the other city that is being viewed as the villains. When Bobby Clarke and Co. were winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in the 1970’s, they were the hated ones. They were the ones labeled as “Broad St. Bullies.” On Sunday, Pittsburgh instigated just about every fight and now they are feeling the wrath of the national media. The New Yorker called it “a mixture of lawless, ugly, and conventionally unskilled play.”
The Sporting News blamed Crosby for acting like a spoiled brat. And Sports Illustrated poked fun at the entire Penguins organization and compared them to a 1980’s opponent of Hulk Hogan.
The series continues Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, with suspensions likely looming for Arron Asham nad James Neal. Whatever happens there, Game 4 is sure to be must-see TV once again — and it sure is nice to be the good guys for once, isn’t it?