The Philadelphia Flyers hung eight goals on the combination of Marc Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson and took a huge 3-0 series lead. Bryz was decent, Couturier, Giroux, and Talbot were awesome, as usual. And the Penguins turned to cheap shots and attempts to injure as the game was out of hand.
In the first period, we saw Claude Giroux and Cindy Crosby (sorta) drop gloves, while Kimmo Timmonen and Kris Letang also turned to fisticuffs simultaneously. Letang poured it on Timmonen, and both were given game misconducts and thrown out of the game. A combined 72 penalty minutes in the first period were just a preview for the fireworks to come.
Later in the game, Brayden Schenn made what appeared to be a clean hit on a Pens player, and Aaron Asham took exception. Asham ran at Schenn and made a huge high hit, jamming his stick into the throat of the rookie Schenn. Asham was thrown out of the game, and should receive a phone call from Brendan Shanahan.
However, the biggest story was yet to come. Late in the third, with the Flyers leading by three goals, James Neal took a run at standout rookie (and shutdown center extraordinaire) Sean Couturier. Couturier has effectively shut down the ugliest professional athlete in the world, Evegeni Malkin, this series, while also stifling Neal. Neal took a run in open ice at Couturier, who did not have the puck and wasn’t in the process of playing the puck, and left his feet while launching himself at the rookie’s head. No penalty was called, and skirt-wearing Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma wisely decided to leave Neal on the ice for the ensuing face off. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette resisted the desire to put a combination of Zac Rinaldo, Wayne Simmonds, Maxime Talbot, and Scott Hartnell on the ice. It wouldn’t matter, however. While in the Pittsburgh zone, Neal took a run at Giroux, and all hell broke loose shortly after. Highlights included:
- Sidney Crosby trying to restrain Scott Hartnell from going after Neal, while Adams then rushed in and eventually squared off with Hartsy. After a few punches, the two worked over towards the boards, where Adams then grabbed a handful of Hartnell’s hair.
- The referees deciding to just give Neal and two minute minor, leading to Hartnell and other Flyers going after him on his way to the penalty box.
- Sidney Crosby sitting in the penalty box while a Flyers fan hilariously held up a t-shirt that read “I hate Sidney Crosby” right over his shoulder.
- Dan Byslma, presumably, sitting in the office in the locker room mumbling and sobbing uncontrollably while using his skirt to wipe away the tears.
- Pittsburgh fans piling off the bandwagon at record rates.
All in all, it was a solid win, but there is major concern when it comes to the status of both Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux. Giroux was noticeably woozy after the run by Neal. Giroux, of course, dealt with a concussion earlier in the season.
If the NHL doesn’t suspend James Neal for his actions, it will be a joke. And if there is no suspension, I will have absolutely no problem with Laviolette activating Jody Shelley and Zac Rinaldo for the sole purpose of attempting to decapitate any combination of Crosby, Malkin, and Neal.
I Hate Crosby photo courtesy of The700Level.