Published: Thu, April 12, 2018
Medical | By Marta Holmes

Crosby hat trick sets tone for Cup champs as Penguins humiliate Flyers

Crosby hat trick sets tone for Cup champs as Penguins humiliate Flyers

Is a rivalry still a rivalry in a league that has made a concerted effort against over-the-top hits and where fighting is truly a rare sight?

With a quick glance at the matchups set to make up the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, few pop off the page like the impending tilt between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers. From hometown rivalries to new faces, there's a lot to pay attention to this playoff season.

After a historic regular season, the Predators charge into the postseason as the NHL's top team - a stark contrast to previous year. They finished with four power plays and no shots on any of them. He missed 25 games with a lower-body injury before returning to the starting lineup to play the final two games of the regular season. They were buoyed by career seasons from defenseman Drew Doughty; Anze Kopitar, the team's current captain; and Dustin Brown, the team's former captain who had been in sharp decline. One of those series will be the Battle of Pennsylvania, between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers. The Pens swept the season series from their rivals.

This is the fourth time these two teams meet in the playoffs in the last 11 seasons and first meeting since the 2012 playoffs when the Flyers earned a 4-2 series win in the First Round in a series that saw 56 goals scored (PHI: 30, PIT: 26) and three games in which there were 12 or more goals scored (Games 2, 3 & 4). The team has had to defend opponent power plays for 9.2 minutes per game over its last five home outings.

"This is a record setting year for us as National Hockey League handle", Las Vegas Superbook's Jay Kornegay said Wednesday morning.

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This year, however, it will be Washington advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals instead of Pittsburgh. Well, this year they're going to be heading back to the Finals but not against the Penguins. The past four playoffs have included a total of 39 fights.

We also did a full season simulation back in October that correctly predicted nine out of the 16 playoff teams, if you'd like some follow-up reading.

This should be the highest scoring series of the first round, and we see the Flyers handling the favored Penguins without going into a panic. The two first-round foes never met in the National Hockey League playoffs when Minnesota had the North Stars (now in Dallas) or Winnipeg had the original Jets (now in Arizona).

Boyle, who has blocked 113 shots in 106 career playoff games, has seen more fights in blowout games deep into a series than at other times because there's too much at stake to take a retaliatory penalty.

The Flyers' No. 1 line - Couturier centering Claude Giroux and Michael Raffl - was a combined minus-11. "I think personnel has changed".

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At even strength, the Penguins appear to hold the advantage, so what about the power play? Unforced errors, it seemed, would threaten to be the away team's undoing.

Well, you know, the Jets 2.0. "I feel like both teams are always kind of at their best, and there's always a little bit extra in those games".

Elliott was not interested in using that layoff as an excuse and didn't want to chalk his Game 1 struggles up to still trying to get up to speed.

"Those things last forever, really", Carlson said. They got into the playoffs thanks to a 5-0 shutout win over the New York Rangers on Saturday, April 7. Where is the fun if everyone likes each other?

Philadelphia's best chance at staying in it came minutes later, but Scott Laughton whiffed on his first attempt from the doorstep and Murray made a sprawling glove save on Laughton's second try to preserve Pittsburgh's lead. "They wanted those rivalries".

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