What we have learned through three games and three victories for the Flyers against the Pittsburgh Penguins:
That goaltending in the playoffs can be overrated.
That rookies in the playoffs can play like veterans.
That fighting is still a part of playoff hockey.
That the Penguins are barely breathing.
And as the game wound down, the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center chanted, “You can‘t beat us.” And they haven’t so far. The final score on Sunday afternoon was Flyers 8, Penguins 4. They go for the astounding sweep of the series on Wednesday night.
This one was part circus, part wrestling match, and wholly outrageous. There were 72 penalty minutes in the first period and a wild series of brawls in the final 5 minutes of the third period. Somewhere, Gene Hart is smiling.
But in between, the game was wild and wide open and the goaltending was pedestrian on the Flyers‘ end and godawful on the Penguins‘ end, and that was that. Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has been terrible in the series, to put it charitably, and he was finally yanked after the second period and replaced by backup Brent Johnson.
Naturally, Claude Giroux scored on the first shot Johnson saw. Or maybe he didn’t see it.
There isn’t a lot to say here. The Penguins were the Las Vegas betting favorite to win the Stanley Cup and now they are on the brink of elimination after three games of the first round. A young, young Flyers team has rollicked and rolled and fought and feasted on opportunity after opportunity provided by a Penguins team that has completely abandoned any semblance of defensive play (or teamwork, for that matter).
At this point, it seems all over but the misconducts.