Ever since the Round One Battle of Pennsylvania became official, one question has been on the minds of all Pittsburgh Penguins fans: are the 2018 Pittsburgh Penguins emotionally stable enough to handle a Philadelphia Flyers series this time around?
Back in 2012, the Penguins were eliminated in the Conference Quarter Final by their state rivals in six games. That series featured a league record 45 goals scored in the first four games, with 23 of those going in the Pittsburgh net.
The most disturbing part of that series for Pens fans was the emotional toll. Uncharacteristic penalties and a preoccupation with some of the Flyers players throughout the series put the Penguins in a 3 games to zero hole they just couldn’t crawl out of.
Obviously those were different times with different teams. The Penguins only have three players left from that year: Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Kris Letang. Letang had his usual flair with his thoughts on the subject:
However, if you had to pick any three to have kept from any year, those would be your guys. They’re the engine, the oil, the heart and soul. The very identity of this franchise. It doesn’t matter what’s different because the leaders are the same.
And the bottom line is these leaders have an unhealthy hatred for the Flyers. Whether they’ve proven themselves in recent years against everyone else, they have a history of losing their cool against this particular franchise.
The Flyers are also different. They have just five holdovers. But four of those oddly enough happen to be the Flyer’s engine, the oil, the heart and soul. The very identity of the franchise. Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier aren’t any more likeable than they were in 2012. They aren’t any less agitating. They are much more experienced, hungrier, and more desperate.
Now, it’s actually pretty important to play with a little hatred, a little emotion. The energy created from this is what propelled the Penguins through tough times the last two post seasons. When things were getting dull, they created some tension. Hopefully Letang is right and the Penguins veterans are a little more mature.
If that’s the case, because of the old fashioned edge to the only old rivalry still in existence, this could be the greatest first round series we’ll have seen in our lifetime. I mean, even if the last time around didn’t go Pittsburgh’s way, it certainly wasn’t boring.
But where this rare type of emotion does exist, it always runs the risk of being uncontrolled. With all the Penguins have survived since 2012, nothing compares to this unique upcoming test, and nothing will erase that long ago series except victory in 2018.