There ya have it. The Penguins have moved on to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since last winning it back in 1992. In case you were wondering why Sid didn't lift the Prince of Wales Trophy high over his head, allow me to enlighten you. Apparently, it's bad luck to touch it. This never stopped Lemieux back in the 90s, but some still hold true to this superstition. I'm hardly a superstitious person, but I really think it would've been hysterical if Bill Daly (the guy on the right in the picture) grabbed the trophy and chased Sid around the ice urging him to take the trophy he and his team earned.
But whatever; add it to the collection.
There's not much you can really say about the game. The matchup finished 6-0, Penguins winning in 5 and the Flyers' season coming to it's immediate end. Flyers fans, in all of their allegiance, still supported the team through to the very end, which is both admirable and worthy of a mention. Disappointment should hardly be on the minds of Philly fans. After all, their Flyers went from worst in the league to second best in the East. Talk about a phenomenal turn around.
What we can talk about is Fleury. The man was a machine in net, stopping all 21 shots faced and coming up big when necessary.
That's not to say there weren't close calls. Just before time ran out in the second it looked as if Philly would ruin Fleury's potential shutout glory with a goal of their own. However it was immediately waved off by refs when it was ruled a Philly player knocked it in with his hand. I can't really say I agree with the call, but I'd imagine it doesn't matter much in the end. The Flyers would have skated into the third down 5-1 with still a lot of ground to cover. In either case, I felt a slight bit of guilt taking that goal away from Philly fans.
But here's what was really on my mind. As you might recall, Philly defeated Pittsburgh 8-2 on December 11. This defeat not only triggered the emotions surrounding the series for the remainder of the season, but also showed evidence of Philly's exhibition of class. Up 7-1 in the third, the Flyers continued to push their number one power-play unit as if it were a 1-0 game. This produced much heat between Therrien and Stevens, in which Therrien even came out and said Stevens and the Flyers were classless.
Sunday, however, Pittsburgh had the opportunity to return the favor. In the end I'd say all well ended well. Despite eight regular season games and five postseason matches riddled with sheer hatred for one another, the two teams met at center ice for the obligatory series ending handshake.
Hopefully the Pens will enjoy this time off and head into the finals rested instead of rusted.
Over the next week or so before the Finals, you'll probably be asking yourself, "Are the Penguins REALLY that good? Do they stand a chance against Detroit/Dallas?"
Well, they've gotten this far in the face of experts picking them as the underdogs. They've gotten this far despite the Ottawa Sun's bounty offers, New York's media blitz and Philadelphia's aggressive play. I'd say yes, no doubt about it.
They already stand a better chance than 27 other teams.