There’s nothing like a Flyers-Penguins game. No matter when the two teams face off against one another, you just know you’ll be missing something special if you’re not watching.
In an overtime thriller, the Flyers emerge victorious over Pittsburgh with a score of 3-2.
Tempers started to flare late in the first period when Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo left his feet in a vicious hit from behind on Penguins’ defenseman Kris Letang. The hit earned Rinaldo a 5 minute penalty for boarding, an additional 10 minute penalty, and a game misconduct. As Flyers fans cheered the hit in the moment, it will most likely cost Rinaldo a suspension.
Rinaldo was asked after the game whether he thinks he’ll be criticized for the hit on Letang:
“It happened so fast,” he said. “I’m not thinking I’m going to hurt the guy and hit him like some people think I hit him. It was a fast game [and] things happened so quickly. It’s hard to dissect something that happened so quickly.”
When asked if he thinks he’ll be suspended for the hit, Rinaldo said:
“More than likely I’m going to get suspended.”
The intensity really began to grow in the second period. There were a total of four fights and 66 penalty minutes between the two teams. On the Flyers side, the fights came by Jake Voracek, Michael Raffl, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Luke Schenn.
For Voracek, it was only his second career NHL fight. His only other regular season bout was vs. Steve Olesky of Washington on March 31, 2013. For Bellemare, it was his first career fight.
When Bellemare was asked if this game had the emotion the team needed for quite some time, this is what he had to say:
“I think it was a great game,” he said. “Everybody just fights for each other, literally. It was awesome to see the fans there. They were loving it. I think we just have to get those four days and come back to this kind of game.”
Jake Voracek, who only had 30 total penalty minutes against him all season before tonight, probably had the best response when asked why he instigated a fight and tallied a game high 17 total penalty minutes:
“I saw Hammer (Dave) Schultz before the game, so I wanted to show him I got something.”
Dave Schultz was the legendary enforcer for the Flyers during the team’s Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975 and is a primary reason why the team is often referred to as “The Broad Street Bullies.”
There was also a lot of excitement in this game besides all of the fights. Both teams had a combined 75 shots on goal with both goalies playing extremely well.
Ray Emery was once again in net for the Flyers and came up huge in the first period when the team was outshot 17-3.
When asked how the team managed not to lose confidence being greatly outshot in the first period, this is what Emery had to say:
“Yeah we know that they come out pretty strong and they have two big lines,” He said. “We talked about it earlier and wanted to weather the storm and we did.”
The game ended in spectacular fashion as none other than Claude Giroux played hero once again and scored the game winning goal against Penguins’ goalie Thomas Greiss.
The game had everything the average as well as hardcore hockey fan could ever ask for; a regular season game played with a playoff intensity that cannot be matched by any two teams besides the Flyers and Penguins.
Boos rained down from the crowd every time villain Sidney Crosby touched the puck. Standing ovations were given at the end of each period as well as after tough penalties were killed. Fights so exciting, I felt like I was watching Rocky Balboa take on Apollo Creed at the Philadelphia Spectrum rather than a hockey game at the Wells Fargo Center.
The only down side to this thrilling win is that it will be the Flyers’ last game until next Tuesday night as the NHL breaks for All Star weekend. All of the emotion and intensity that the Flyers had been craving as the much needed push to scratch out wins on a more frequent basis will be all but lost when the team comes back together to take on the Phoenix Coyotes seven days from now.
Fortunately for Flyers’ fans, they will still be able to enjoy watching Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek who will be representing their team in this weekend’s All Star festivities.
Voracek currently leads the NHL in total points with 56 and Giroux isn’t far behind with 51 points. Both players are having outstanding individual seasons while the Flyers overall have been disappointing to this point.
The Flyers now jump to 5th place in the Metropolitan Division but trail the 1st place New York Islanders by 18 points.
With a little more than half the season already in the books, the Flyers will hope to retain at least some of the intensity from tonight’s game and use it next Tuesday night when their season continues against the Coyotes.