Philadelphia Flyers fans now must look to Tampa to do what Washington could not–knock off the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After the Philadelphia Flyers were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, I wrote about Flyers fans switching to cheering for the Washington Capitals. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. This was primarily based on “schadenfreude” towards the rival Pittsburgh Penguins–taking pleasure in other’s misfortune.
Surprisingly, the Penguins didn’t do it on the back of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins got most of their offense from the line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino, and Phil Kessel. None of these players were on the Penguins roster 12 months ago.
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On the one hand, the prospect that the Penguins beat the possibly the NHL’s best team without many contributions from their 2 star forwards is scary for the opposition. On the other hand, the Penguins did get their share of bounces in the series against the Capitals, and at some point that is likely to change for a team that has been so hot the last 2-3 months.
Now it’s the Tampa Bay Lightning’s turn for a crack at the Penguins and to carry the hopes of wandering Philadelphia Flyers fans. The Lightning are a pretty interesting team themselves. They’ve made it thus far without their top goal scorer, Steven Stamkos, and half of their top defense pair, Anton Stralman.
It also wasn’t too long ago that a trade for Jonathan Drouin was the hot talk in the NHL. We even wondered about how to bring him Philadelphia. That seems like ancient history now, and Drouin has been another weapon for the Lightning in these playoffs.
This series could be considered their first real test in these playoffs, previously matching up with relative soft competition in the Detroit Red Wings and New York Islanders. The Penguins have much more scoring depth than either of those teams.
For what it’s worth, the Lightning already took game 1. Things could get a lot more interesting as Stralman and Stamkos may be on the verge of returning to the lineup. This bodes well for Flyers/Lightning fans.
I’d much rather do this the old fashioned way, where the Flyers just beat the Penguins themselves. Alas, this is the best we can do at this moment. There may be no more Flyers hockey this spring, but this should be another entertaining series between good teams. It brings me a certain degree of pain to see the Penguins winning, but I have to give them credit for being an entertaining team to watch right now.
But that also just makes it more appealing to turn on the game and root against them. Game 2 between the Lightning and Penguins is tonight at 8 EST.