Thursday, October 07, 2010

Battle of Pennsylvania 2010-11: Game 1

The Battle of Pennsylvania begins with a new arena to play in and a fresh new perspective on NHL hockey. Consol Energy Center has been talked about all summer long and would certainly be the underlining storyline to the game. Once the pomp and circumstance have all worn away, we would get the first true look at what the NHL season had in store.

But as I clicked on the TV reminder note to the channel once the Penguins vs. Flyers game was about to start, Versus showed the concert outside Dundas street in downtown Toronto instead of the opening night festivities in Consol. I was fuming! I patiently waited while Hedley belted out a mediocre if not downright awful tune. FSN Pittsburgh would not put up with any of this nonsense! And Versus had to verbally acknowledge that the first commercial break was spent honoring the old voice of the Penguins in the Mellon Arena, John Barbaro, who passed away this past summer.

But as the Versus network actually made it to broadcast the game, we are treated to see the Commissioner Bettman and Mario Lemieux drop the ceremonial first puck on the long red carpet. I didn't find out until later that Mario had already been out to the ice and dropped a tankard of water from the ice at Mellon Arena.

The first period was a lot of what I expected and a little less of what I wanted. Crosby and company were stiffed by a young goalie that was experiencing his first career NHL start. It was as if the Penguins couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with the puck. The Flyers had some great chances as well, but were countered by some better Penguins defensive zone action. It was a feeling out period that neither team got the upper hand or a score on the board. 0-0 to the 1st intermission.

By the second period, I wondered who would finally get the first goal scored in the new arena. Every second that ticked away, it had become a smörgåsbord of trivia. It wasn't much longer of a wait as Danny Briere answered the call to fulfill history. His goal at 2:51 in the period became the first goal scored on the new Consol Energy Center ice. Penguins fans collectively hung their head as they all knew that the "classy" fans of Philadelphia will never ever live this one down. Then things got even more complicated as Blair Betts was credited with a second goal near at the end of the period to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead going in to the 2nd intermission.

The 3rd period must have seen a Penguins team that might not have even been ready to play. :44 seconds in to the 3rd saw Tyler Kennedy finally solve the rookie goaltender Bobrovsky. It seemed to bring out some life in the Penguins who realized that dropping the first game in the new building would not be all that great. But the Flyers once again made Fleury look stupid and tossed in a shorthanded goal 4 minutes later. My heart demanded a trade for Fleury as soon as the game ended. Inexcusable. The Penguins decide too little too late to stage a comeback and score again before the powerplay was over. Alex Goligoski got the puck through with one final second to spare on the PP.

So as the final horn rang through the hope of winning the first game at the new Arena was dashed at the marvelous play by Bobrovsky. Could he keep up during the remaining 81 games? That's not an easy question to answer, but I do know for sure - the Flyers fans will never let this down. EVER! Flyers win game 1 of the Battle of Pennsylvania 3-2.
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