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Penguins/Flyers rivalry is back on the table

Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

The Penguins still have one more game on Saturday night against the Devils to get through, and then one of the most exciting games of the season will happen for the first time: Penguins vs Flyers. Which if you sign up with ESPN+ you can watch out of market next week. There’s nothing quite like the energy of a good rival. Sure, there’s the Capitals running around trying to gain attention and relevance, but the best is Pens/Flyers. It’s always Pens/Flyers.

“I don’t like them, because I don’t like any guy on their team.”

That Sidney Crosby quote, believe it or not is almost a decade old, from the ill-fated 2012 playoff series. It marked the only time that Philadelphia has eliminated the Pens from the playoffs in the Crosby era, with Pittsburgh taking wins in 2008, 2009 and 2018.

That moment may have marked the high-water moment of the Pens/Flyers rivalry of this era. Both teams were really good from 2008-12. Well, the Penguins stayed good after that too, but it took until 2020 for the Flyers to win another playoff series after beating Pittsburgh in 2012, often years not even managing to qualify for the postseason.

But —as any older Penguin fan who had to live through the domination of playing in Philadelphia in the 1970’s and ‘80s will tell you — it’s never not enjoyable to now be the hammer instead of the nail in this rivalry.

Much of this is due to Crosby, whose absolute master of the Flyers — with their fans absolutely squirming with dread and disgust every step of the way — has made Pens/Flyers games such an absolute treat for Pens’ fans. The fans boo and jeer with gusto, every time Pittsburgh comes to town. It only seems to stoke Crosby’s competitiveness and more often than not he is filling the net.

Just look at this list of all-time point scorers vs the Flyers:

It’s a who’s who of Penguins, and Mario Lemieux still reigns supreme — but with six games this year Crosby could be coming for that number one spot pretty quickly. Adjusting for eras and all, and what Sid has done against the Flyers is nothing short of breath-taking, especially at even strength compared to Lemieux.

In some ways now, it just seems like Crosby is toying with the Flyers, finding new and creative goals to score on their dopey goaltenders.

This is one of my favorite pictures and I can’t believe it’s a real thing.

And that’s not the only time he’s caught Hart completely unaware of what was going on.

And who could forget the time earlier this year Crosby started off on a 2-on-1 rush WITHOUT HAVING A STICK and still managed to score a goal.

So, yeah, it doesn’t even matter that the Flyers aren’t very good (though they’re off to a 4-1-1 start and this could totally be the year they turn it around, you guys), it’s always fun to watch the Pens/Flyers.

And, what do you know, Crosby is making strides in his recovery and just might be back in time for the game. If you’ve seen the last 16 years, you probably know how it’s going to end, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.