Better With Popcorn

Flyers Vs. Penguins ECQF 2012, Game 6: Philadelphia Didn't Care About Exorcising Demons; They Just Wanted To Win

Love them or hate them, it’s hard to deny that the Pittsburgh Penguins are one of the most talented teams in the NHL today. Boasting a star-studded lineup, a legendary owner and a recent string of success, it’s understandable why they are a perennial favorite to win the Stanley Cup.

While the Penguins may be one of the best teams in the game and posses one of the most impressive rosters in the world, they were not the best team on Sunday afternoon and are no longer able to win the Stanley Cup.

They can thank the Philadelphia Flyers for that.

Following an up-and-down first round series, the Flyers eliminated the Penguins from playoff contention with a commanding, complete effort in a series clinching 5-1 win in Game 6.

This is now the first time that the Flyers have defeated the post-lockout, “star-era” Penguins after losing to the team in consecutive meetings in both the 2008 and 2009 postseason, both of which ultimately resulted in Stanley Cup Final appearances for Pittsburgh.

Even coming into this year’s series, many felt that the Penguins were the better of the two clubs. The overwhelming amount of analysts who picked Pittsburgh to win the Stanley Cup made this belief blatantly clear.

Ultimately, many paid too much attention to the logos on the sweaters and a few select players in them rather than the collective units of the two teams.

Even with all the experts picking the other team, the Flyers never seemed to care. Even though they were injury depleted, the Flyers never seemed to care. Even with a roster filled with players who had never played in the post season before, the Flyers never seemed to care.

Philadelphia didn’t care about any thing but playing hockey in this series.

Despite all the star-power, all the brawls, all the media attention and all the doubts, the Flyers only focused on playing hockey. Nothing else mattered.

This team wasn’t concerned with the two teams that failed to beat Pittsburgh in 2008 and 2009. They were only concerned with ending each game with more goals than the other team, regardless of how many it needed to be.

Plenty of narratives will discuss the dynamics of how the Flyers managed to exorcise their demons in terms of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Many will discuss how the team took down the two-headed giant of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and made the world’s premier “playoff goaltender” look like nothing more than a minor league call-up.

And its all true.

But in doing so, it doesn’t give the Flyers enough credit for what happened in this series.The Flyers continued what they started at the start of the season; they won as a team. Whether it was scoring eight goals in back-to-back games or holding their opponent to one goal in the final game of the series, the Flyers won as a unit.

It’s what they’ll need to continue to do if they plan on completing their goal of collecting “16 knock, knocks” this postseason.

And while the ghosts of Penguins past have now been put to rest, this team’s job isn’t done; their postseason journey is far from complete. Regardless of the fan fare, they know what’s next and they know how challenging it will be.

It’s that same kind of awareness that allowed them to finally beat Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Philadelphia didn't care who they were playing, they just wanted to win.

On Sunday they did just that.

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