Saturday, January 13, 2007

Battle of Pennsylvania 06-07: Episode 6

While all my Canadian friends are glued to their CBC for the yearly tradition of Hockey Day in Canada, I have my own enjoyment to watch the Penguins play the latest episode of the hated rival Philadelphia Flyers. The big stories of the game was developing into just how much the game quality the American audience would see during the NBC broadcast. Sid Crosby is coming into the game in first place in the scoring race, but creeping up is his nemesis Ovechkin. How many points would Crosby pick up to maintain that point separation?

The NBC broadcast was in a crisp beautiful High Definition making the Flyers 3rd jersey a really bright fresh pumpkin orange. NBC would also bring close the Olczyk/Penguins connection as he would be the color analyst offering more knowledge than what I would expect from a professional. Ed Olczyk, former Penguins coach and player, gave the NBC audience a little personal anecdote claiming that he fought like hell to keep Marc-Andre Fleury on the major level, but the Penguins trumped him by stating they had financial concerns. He then ended his story with mentioning that he was fired from the job days later. In my opinion, Olczyk only came off as being bitter.

The Flyers also showed a lot of frustration on the ice during the game despite capturing the game's first goal by Ryan Potulny a little after a minute and a half into the game. But Sergei Gonchar would tie it up at 1-1 before Ben Eager decided to excuse himself for the afternoon and pick a fight with one of the Penguins enforcers Chris Thorburn earning himself a game misconduct. The Pens ended the first with a 2-1 lead when Evgeny "Geno" Malkin scored his 21st goal of the year.

The second period was just as scrappy as the first as each team skated around looking for the unsuspecting player to lower a shoulder into. Former Flyer Mark Recchi took a nice shot at the goal 15 and a quarter minutes in to make it 3-1 Penguins and it looked like the Penguins had all the momentum. But the Penguins soon realized that the Flyers would not lay down for them this time as the Flyers battled back with 2 quick goals of their own by Gagne and Forsberg respectively. NBC's "man in the middle" Pierre McGuire, asked Mark Recchi at the end of the period why the Penguins were letting the Flyers back into the game.

The Penguins took to the third like the previous two and fought off the rowdy Flyers with another goal by Jordan Staal and then sealed it away by a empty net goal by Evgeny Malkin. The Flyer faithful in the Wachovia Center tried to generate some excitement themselves, but not for the hockey game. They looked forward to the Eagles and the NFL playoffs.
With an Eagles playoff game only hours away, the surprisingly strong crowd got more enjoyment out of shouting "E-A-G-L-E-S!" for several stretches in this one. And why not? After all, the Flyers gave them little reason to cheer.
Staal talked about the team's success after the game.
"I don't know. Part of it is just confidence," Staal said. "Once you get a couple going on them, you're more confident playing a team like that. I can't really say why we beat them every time."
Crosby walked out of the afternoon with 1 assist desperate to keep scoring pace.

You can also read the excellent Mike Chen's assessment of the NBC broadcast at the link below.

[Via: Yahoo! Sports & Mike Chen 2.0]
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