It took 30 plus years, but the roles have finally been reversed. The Pittsburgh Penguins are now the collective asshole of the hockey universe. We are now the punchline of the joke. Maybe that was the Flyers plan all along? Be total douchebags for 4 decades until the Penguins snap and embarrass themselves in the same manner. It's worked, if that's the case. We suck. Flyers are better. No doubting it after what we've seen. Now they can all just sit back and laugh at us while we lose our marbles. The joke is on us.
The Pens are now the ones getting outplayed, outcoached, outeverythinged. Hands down. We are now the jag offs who have resorted to goonery in lieu of skill. We are now the Charlestown Chiefs.
But maybe that's overboard. Maybe that's too convenient. The Penguins are definitely not innocent. Maybe the answer lies somewhere in between. It's an emotional game and emotional times. Instead of painting all of the thuggery from Sunday with broad (street) strokes, let's look at each of the hot topic players and dissect a bit...
I'm a huge Tanger supporter. Love that dude. Love my #58 black sweater. But the lack of composure he exhibits on a nightly basis resembles a 6 year old who gets his Legos taken away from him. On the very top of Peter Laviolette's game plan, I'm willing to bet is a line: "get under Letang's skin."
It's worked all year for Philly. It's been proven his presence is essential to the Penguins success (even more so than 87's, numbers would suggest), so why not get him off his game? I still want to think a Norris Trophy is in his future. But until he gets his emotions under control, he'll forever be an also ran. Great talent, fragile psyche. I love the edge to his game...but it's getting to that point of over the edge.
The fight with Timonen was stupid and selfish. With Crosby and Giroux already fighting, it was an automatic game misconduct. Letang claims he thought they were just locked up, and his was the 1st fight, whatev. But when you're that important to the team, why take a chance? Sure, it was fun seeing Timonen getting rag dolled and smacked around. But not to the point where I wanted Letang taken off the ice in the FIRST PERIOD! Also consider the fact you've got a history of concussions (although I guess Kimmo doesn't present much danger).
And then the most embarrassing moment of the game:
taken from Pensblog
I can't think of a moment as a Pens fan where I've cringed harder. Maybe when Matt Cooke elbowed that Ranger dude last year.
He pushed away Voracek's glove?! The audacity!! Can't believe he'd stoop so low.
Big fucking deal. Yeah...it was a prick move. I loved it. It's hilarious, actually. It's not like he spit on someone's kid. Not like he took out someone's teeth with a high stick, Derian Hatcher.
He whacked at Bryzgalov's glove covering a puck?! Nobody ever does that. Brutal.
He states that he doesn't like a single Flyer?! Guess he should've been more politically correct and calculated with his statements.
Sounds like good captains just sit back, bend over, and take it. Gimme a fucking break. Because of his health concerns, I didn't want Sid fighting...even against a lame opponent like Giroux. But at least I understand it. Everyone in the hockey universe praised Max Talbot 4 years ago for stirring the pot against Dan Carcillo. So to take Crosby to task for doing the same thing is moronic and hypocritical.
The manufactured hate of Sidney Crosby in Philly is a joke born from jealousy and a lack of creativeness. Pure and simple. Paul Holmgren would trade Giroux plus whatever 2 players Shero wanted to get Sid in a Flyer sweater. And every single fan from Flyer Nation would bow in reverence and smooch his skate laces.
Crosby's not an angel, and I can't remember the last time he or his fans claimed he was. He's as competitive as they come. The greats usually are. With competitiveness comes emotions...like them or not.
Just because Pierre McGuire has his lips pressed tightly against Brayden Schenn's sphincter like the caboose of a Human Centipede (which would make an awesome photoshop for those so inclined), doesn't mean Schenn is the innocent victim in all of this. Instead of listening to Dildo, mute and watch Schenn take a run from the blue line, line up Paul Martin, and try to take him out. "Clean play" my fucking ass. He caught an unsuspecting player with his head down, and tried to freight train him...leaving his feet in the process. You might not have heard it with all the gushing between the benches, but the referee actually got it right. It was clear cut charge, and Schenn was penalized for it.
McGuire further stated Asham cross checked him in the adam's apple. Schenn apparently is deformed, being born with his adam's apple on his chest.
Did Arron Asham cross the line? Absolutely. Got his stick too high on the retaliation, and the punch to the back of the turtle's head was too much. A suspension was deserved. Based on the other decisions from Sheriff Shanny this post season, it was too harsh (punching someone in the back of the head is NOT suspension worthy according to previous decisions, Shea Weber). But some action and discipline was warranted. In the video explanation, Shanahan should've referenced "gutless goon", which would've been a better bullet point.
It's just another hypocrisy of the NHL. Asham is a 4th line nobody. Niklas Backstrom is a star player, so he gets only 1 game for the exact same action (except Backstrom's was post-whistle). If Chris Pronger had done what Asham did, McGuire and NBC would be praising Pronger for his leadership and coming to the aid of a teammate. After all...that's what it was. Overboard, yes. But if Schenn doesn't want Asham in his face, he should think twice about running players. He's already proven he's at his best when players have their backs to him. Schenn's a dirtbag. Fuck him.
Important to note, which Shanny references in his video: Arron Asham has NEVER been suspended before. He has a CLEAN history. He also references Backstrom's clean history when saying he only gets 1 game. So one can assume Asham gets the extra 3 games because that's what Shea Weber should've gotten...but he didn't. Complete fucking joke.
I can hear Colin Campbell sputtering and slobbering in past years: "Uggrgh, you never urghhr played HOCKEY! What'd you urrghurr know? I rrrghuerugh played HOCKEY."
Stupid play by Neal. Dumb and immature. I'm willing to buy the first killing of Couturier. And from hearing the video, it sounds like Shanahan would, too. Puck was turned over, and Neal went from D to O. He evades Malkin to enter the zone, and the murder victim was in his path. OK. But then Neal jumps into Couturier, saying he was bracing himself. Convenient excuse most likely.
The above is more accepting if he doesn't charge Giroux 20 seconds later. The embellishment from Giroux not withstanding (Flyers fans would laugh hysterically if Crosby danced around like that after a hit), Neal was clearly trying to inflict damage when he raised the hands. I didn't know it, but Neal has been suspended once before (3 years ago on the Stars), so the suspension is worthy.
Pulling on Scott Hartnell's hair? Really? This coming from a clown like Hartnell with a biting history. Guess it's not customary to grab your opponent by the shoulders, jersey, whatever during a fight. How could you avoid grabbing a lock of hair? He did...he let go. Happens. I like what the Harvard man said:
"I don't think he has a huge problem with it, if he does he should maybe get a haircut."
Hartnell hammed it up like he always does. Got a rise outta everyone wearing pumpkin. Bravo.
The suspension was automatic. NHL rules state that if you're caught instigating a fight in the final 5 minutes, and you're not a star player, an automatic 1 game suspension is due.