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Much like a dominant starting pitcher or a stout NFL defense, a hot goaltender can neutralize almost anything a good offense can throw at them in postseason play. In fact, many a goalie has made a name for himself specifically during this time of year.

In Pittsburgh, it's usually Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin that gets the headlines. Marc-Andre Fleury, despite his standing as a #1 overall pick and Stanley Cup goalie, gets very little credit for his contributions to this day. I think merely the title of Scott Burnside's ESPN column, "No more doubts about Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury", would seem to back that up. But on this occasion, Tuesday night's Game Four was all about the man we affectionately call MAF.

The Flower was nearly perfect, save for a Daniel Carcillo third-period goal, in leading the Penguins to a hard-fought 3-1 victory in Philadelphia that puts the Flyers on the brink of playoff extinction. This came despite a Penguin power play that went 0-for-5, only to be outdone by Philly's 0-for-8. This came despite Evgeni Malkin somehow not getting a shot on goal. This came despite the Penguins' first goal having a legitimate chance of being taken off the board, and despite getting outshot 46-26. BUT...what happened happened, and the series sits at 3-1, Penguins. It's not always going to be a cakewalk. In fact, last night was intense of a game as you'll ever see. Deal with it, Philadelphia. The better team won.

The Flyers were desperate. That was obvious with the extra body blows they delivered to Fleury every time they crashed the net. But the 24-year-old with the pleasant disposition stood tall and turned the Wachovia Center into the quietest gathering of 19,883 people you might ever see in a lifetime for a majority of the evening.

So now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh, with the Penguins having the opportunity to escort the Flyers into golf season on home ice. The game is scheduled for 7 PM on Thursday. Flyer golf season is scheduled for 8 AM on Friday.


Apparently the Versus broadcast was very pro-Flyer last night, which is a surprise to no one. But I did get an email from a reader named Billyseth who has a complaint with the local broadcast. Please, read on:

"I’m writing you tonight in an attempt to voice a complaint that I feel most Pens fans have, but is never spoken of outside of bars and people's homes. The person who is controlling the camera angles for FSN is doing his damnedest to ruin Penguin broadcasts. Anytime there's an opportunity to zoom in on an individual player, he takes it. Tonight, for example, he nearly ruined Crosby's goal by zooming in on Matt Cooke coming out of the penalty box. Rather than seeing the brilliant steal and pass Kunitz made to Cooke, we only saw Cooke receiving the pass. This has gone on for far too long and it needs to stop. I desperately hope you will mention this on your website on the off chance that this nonsense will stop. When will FSN learn that hockey fans would much rather see a play develop than a close-up of the guy carrying the puck."

Also got an in-person report from Matt E. about our friends to the East that should be heard:

"Just got back from Game 4. Also went to Game 3. Live in Philly now. Let me say, that Wachovia Center crowd is WILD. I have been to Pens-Flyers, Steelers-Eagles, and Pirates-Phillies, and the Flyers fans are by far the craziest. There may only be 19,000 of them in the entire city, but they come out in full force for these games. I will also say, though, that the arena parking lot and the subway station are absolute cesspools for Philly/ Jersey obnoxiousness/ classlessness. This all came to head on Sunday evening when my 54 year-old father and I got into a good old fashioned streetfight with some classic Philly douchebags. I'm not emailing you to brag, although the fight did have a much different outcome than game 3 did (the old man and I looked like Caufield and Godard), but instead to share a quote from a Flyers fan after the melee:

"C'mon you a**holes! Everyone in that arena knows you guys are gonna win this series, we don't need that garbage going on here, too."

So while the crowd's intensity cannot be denied, the authenticity of how "Flyered Up" they really are seems suspect to me. And on top of that, for as many pacifiers and signs these people make for Cindy Criesby, nobody's whining compares to theirs. 6 of the 8 phone calls I heard on sports radio on the ride home complained about the refs when the Flyers were 0-for-8 on the power play tonight. These fans make me sick. That team makes me sick. Mike Richards makes me sick. He might be a worse person than Ray Lewis. Let's win the cup this year. I might be drinking the Fleury-Aid, but I think we can do it. Let's go Pens."

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Unknown said...

Fleury was out-of-his-mind awesome. It's scary to think of how good he'll be in another year or two when he's playing like this consistently (or, at least when he SHOULD be playing like that consistently).

This has also been one of the worst officiated series I've ever seen, and I mean that for both teams.

That said, when you go 0 for 8 on the power play, you have absolutely no one to blame but yourselves for losing.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

I don't understand whether you are implying that the officials gave the Pens an advantage last night?

I have been convinced that some of us have been watching an entirely different series, but I don't see how the Flyers could blame anybody but themselves no matter how much Stevens Eve Douche whines about calls.

Unknown said...

Not at all implying the Pens were given an advantage. I'm simply referring to the quality of calls that have been made. A lot of really ticky-tacky stuff and it's gone both ways. I think both teams can gripe about the quality of officiating in general. Like I said, the Flyers have no one to blame but themselves for losing last night.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

unfortunately, it is difficult to interpret connotation in text without italics available.

I agree that here have been some really soft calls, too many actually. On the other hand,somethings that are downright nasty have been let go in my opinion. Lack of consistency.

Most important, Fleury was out of his mind again. I am hoping to hear a resounding " GO HOME FLYERS!" tomorrow night!

Anonymous said...

Calls and no-calls have been bad both ways. They wash out in my opinion.

That Caufield-Godard comment is classic.

Some other comments I've heard on the radio about the way flyers fans treat Pens fans include throwing of empty beer cans, throwing of full coke cans, dumping beers and even attempts or at the very least threats of vehicular homicide in the parking lot.

I applaud all who venture to Wachovia to cheer for the Pens.

Penn.DOT(DadOf2) said...

I had to watch the Replay to see for myself what I had seen the first time, Fleury was INSANE!!! The goal he allowed was because a "bully" mowed him down, and he was unable to get back up into his stance. He is a true #1 Pick, and the Pens could ride him right to the Cup. Now, let's end this series tomorrow night!!!

Still think we need a few more players to score some goals, but that's why there are 4 Rounds to the playoffs.

Go Penguins!!! Lord Stanley is calling, let's get some!!!