The Battle for Pennsylvania is on this weekend… in Philadelphia on Saturday, in Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Flyers and Penguins have a home and home this weekend, with the playoffs looming on the horizon. For the Penguins, the points are meaningless. Short of a nuclear disaster, the Penguins, currently in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 92 points, will make the playoffs. For the Flyers, who are clinging to a Wild Card Playoff spot, the points are crucial. Fans at both games can expect a playoff like atmosphere, but not just because Spring is in the air.
The Flyers and Penguins always seem to bring out the best, or perhaps the worst, in each other. No matter the teams standings, when the boys in Flyers Orange take the ice against Pittsburgh, both teams appear to take their play up a notch. This is a rivalry for State Pride, and home ice advantage, well, it hasn’t always worked out to either team’s advantage.
When the Penguins debuted their brand new, state of the art arena, the Consol Energy Center, it seemed only fitting that the opponent would be the Flyers. On October 7, 2010, Flyers center Danny Briere scored the first goal at the Consol Energy Center, in a Flyers win that was rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky’s NHL debut.
In the first round of the 2012 playoffs, the Flyers were underdogs to to the Penguins, and most felt the Flyers would be lucky to win one game, let alone the series. When the Penguins went up 3-0 in the first period of game one, the Penguins and their fans were secure in victory. Then something strange happened…the Flyers pride kicked in. The Flyers tied the game, in a stunning comeback that included two goals from none other than the opening spoiler himself, Danny Briere. The Flyers won the game in overtime, and the Consol Center emptied quickly. Game two was also won by the Flyers, who came from behind in that game as well. Game three of the series was another Flyers win, this time in Philadelphia. This fight filled game, with 158 penalty minutes, was custom made for Philadelphia, home of the Broad Street Bullies.
The Penguins pride kicked in for game four, and they pounded the Flyers 10-3 in front of a Philadelphia crowd that was not shy to show their disappointment. The Penguins won game five in Pittsburgh, and looked ready to take over the series. Flyers forward Claude Giroux put an end to the Penguins comeback, and fast. During his first shift of game six, Giroux checked Penguins star Sidney Crosby and sent him to the ice, to the untold joy of the Philadelphia crowd. The Wells Fargo Center exploded again, as Giroux scored 32 seconds into the game.The Flyers and their fans never looked back, and took the game by a score of 5-1, and the series 4-2.
This time, the battle is not just about pride; this mini series may determine the playoff lives for the team from Philadelphia.