Rooting for Fire, Famine, and Pestilence on a Sheet of Ice

I was hoping for more hatred. I don’t have a dog in this Pittsburgh-Philthy affair, so naturally I’m rooting for a rink full of rottweilers and pit bulls on blades. Who haven’t been fed in a while. Let it be a bloody war of attrition, period after period of marauding and maiming, devouring so many carcasses that the American League farmclubs for both sides are exhausted.
This, especially, is what I don’t want from this series: pretty boy puck.
In game 1 last night, based on some springtime flairups I witnessed between these clubs, I expected a bit of feeling out fisticuffs — some messages sent and received. Some elbows carried high, some sticks carried higher, some blade-jabs to the abdomen about eleven seconds after whistles. Some old time hockey. This is the Battle of Pennsylvania, for gods sake, and a clear contrast in incompatible styles. But we really didn’t get what we deserved for a Friday night with a fridge full of beer. We got a¬†pretty good hockey game. Nothing wrong with that. And actually, this series has the early look of a potential classic.
But it can only rise to the level of Classic if the two teams acknowledge their inner hatred.
I turned off Thursday¬†night’s game 1 between Detroit and Dallas early not only because it wasn’t competitive but because I had the sense that there was no piss and vinegar present. And likely, there won’t be. I’m far more interested in the Eastern¬†Conference finals because there’s far more potential not only for a lengthy and competitive series but also for scores of Pennsylvanians swaying plexiglass with their over-beered bloodlust. It’s true, you wouldn’t hire a single one of them for an office job, but you want them present at a hockey game between these clubs at this time of year. ¬†
Whatever objective detachment I possessed at 7:00 last evening was obliterated when I tuned in to the pre-game fare only to be confronted by a 30-minute Versus Valentine for FishLips. At one point they even had the lad wax poetic about playing injured. (When’s he ever done that?) No wonder that at 7:30 last night I had visions of Hartnell and Ruutu rioting shift after shift in my head.¬†But neither lived up to their lurid billing. Ruutu especially could have auditioned for the Lady Byng last night.¬†Georges Laraque — was he even dressed?¬†¬†¬†
There were some terrific hits last night, but they were clean. We can’t have that.
I try and content myself with the thought that each night’s outcome will deliver agony to one franchise I loathe, and therefore shadenfreude joy to me. But with, necessarily, a corresponding victor, that’s Pop-Tart nourishment. ¬†
Caps’ fans friends have asked me this week who “I’m rooting for” in this series,¬†and I return them expression-less stares of bewilderment. Imperfect as I am, I am nonetheless a man of rudimentary morals and¬†irregular religiosity. “Rooting” for either heathen franchise is a genetic impossibility. Instead I “root for” marital discord among all the series’¬†players; for their nights spent in the company of Bill McCreary; for¬†debilitating addictions and IRS audits¬†among¬†them all; for the early onset of arthritis. ¬†
People of mainstream breeding listen to my depraved wishlist for this series and challenge my¬†stability. I can’t possibly be genuinely rooting for widespread injury, they allege. Why on Earth not? In so doing am I going to get fired from my job? (No.) Will my dog cease wagging her tail at my arrival home? (No.) ¬†(In point of fact,¬†she barks her approval at Flyers’ and Penguins’ misfortunes, when I point them out to her). Will Metro learn of my arrival on its cars and swiftly deliver deficient service? (It does that anyway.) Will the Earth suddenly cease its rotation?
I wouldn’t begrudge life insurance largesse directed at a single series’ widow.¬†I call that taking the high road.¬†
For gods sake, this isn’t the Hatfields and the McCoys, or Iran and Iraq. It’s the Flyers and Penguins. Neither deserves to triumph in a universe presided over by¬†a just Deity.
Look [channeling my inner Donnie Schultzhoffer], get the kids out of the room. This is how it is: there is no one on the Flyers’ roster remotely close in talent to Evgeni Malkin. There is also no one remotely close in ability to Sidney Crosby. Frankly, there’s no one in orange and black who can hold Marian Hossa’s jock. It’s a fact. So how should Philly strategize?
The only way it knows.
And let the high definition cameras chronicle every beautiful brutal second of it. Lets us have a series to make Bobby Clarke proud. And Mario Lemieux cower.

This entry was posted in Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, Morning cup-a-joe, National Hockey League, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Rooting for Fire, Famine, and Pestilence on a Sheet of Ice

  1. Francisco says:

    this post is pure poetry at its highest form. to quote
    another famous poet — there’s blood on the streets of the town of new haven — only i don’t think he was talking about a blades game.

  2. TG says:

    After much thought and going back and forth, here’s who I’m rooting for. I’m hoping that The City of Brotherly Shove wins in seven games via disputed goal (such as “was it goalie interference or not” in quadruple overtime). Then Detroit stomps them in a four game sweep. This will have multiple positives:
    1. Ending the Crosby/Malkin love-fest.
    2. Forcing the NHL to acknowledge the problems with the way goalie interference is/isn’t called.
    3. Once again ripping the hearts out of Philadelphia fans as they stand at the precipice of one of their teams winning something. Anything. And when their fans say next year, “But at least we made it to the finals.” We can (honestly) respond, “Nobody remembers the losers.”
    Yes, I am that vindictive.

  3. You’re not vindictive, just a good American.

  4. Sombrero Guy says:

    I was rooting for a spontaneous implosion of the arena.

  5. zelda says:

    I think we saw a foreshadowing of games to come when the Flyers started a brawl toward the end of the 3rd when nothing was going their way. I’m with Sombrero Guy — an Almighty smite of some sort — meteor, tornado or a tidal wave emanating from the Monongahela River — was on my wish list last night.
    Just imagine if Timmonen had been out in the Caps series — Ovetchkin would have looked even better than Malkin.

  6. Juan-John says:

    I woulda been happy with all the rinks in Pennsylvania being mirror images of the Phone Booth’s (with any attendant injuries being labeled by the NHL as “purely incidental”)…

  7. Burgh says:

    Well said P&B. While I can’t, due to fear of karma, root for injuries in this series, I have no problems with rooting for it to be extremely violent. Save for a few bit hits last night, I was pretty disappointed. I expected the Flyers to bring the forecheck and aggression that they had in the first round.
    While I may be rooting for the Flyers in this series, history tells me that the Penguins will walk all over them and, in the process, figuratively mock the Caps with “Why’d you have so much trouble with this lot?” I fully expect Biron, Briere, Hartnell, Umberger and pretty much everyone not named Richards or Smith to completely fold over the next week.

  8. Bucky Katt says:

    Bravo P&B! I too was looking for something on the order of the 2 April matchup between these cross-state rivals. Fear not, I guarantee you that the nastiness factor will emerge.

  9. CP2Devil says:

    P & B, I always like your writing, but this time you took it up a notch. Pens had not better coast on through this series. We all want 7 games of absolute mayhem. Hope the Flyers get that vengeance they are always spewing about in game 2. Hopefully it will take them all 20 bodies and 10 OT’s to get it too. I like TG’s playoff ending scenario too. It would give us Bitter Pens fans and heartbroken Flyers fans. Only thing better than that is…well pretty much nothing is better than that.

  10. radbytrade says:

    Err…okay, Pucks. I’ll just take a Flyers series win. If they start going down in flames, I’m all for a bloodbath.
    /pounds some plexiglas and excels in his office job

  11. working for the man says:

    Wow, so many bitter Caps fans. You guys should wish for the Pens to win, then in ten years, when they can’t afford Malkin/Crosby, you can swoop right in and pick them up for nothing (which is precisely what they will give you in return a la Jagr). I agree that a more physical game would be great, but I’m not sure I’m rooting for any areana implosions. I think some people are just upset that “Alex the Grape” couldn’t lead the Caps past these Flyers (in his defense, both teams were playing great to that point). Well, while all of you Caps fans cry into your latte, I will enjoy my fresh Iron City brew while celebrating. At least you have the Nationals!

  12. BurghTown says:

    Just a friendly reminder, the Pens are going to simply roll over the Flyers. Too much solid play from every area for Philly to handle. No need to play Fylers any further, bring on Detroit!!!!

  13. Grooven says:

    All I’m hoping for is fun hockey to watch. Hard hits, sweet plays.
    I guess if it comes down to it, I’m not so much rooting for anyone, but rather rooting against. Against a couple players on the Flyers. But after spending four years in Pittsburgh, I think ultimately I’m rooting against the Penguins (not cheering for the Flyers).
    We’ll see if the Penguins best the Flyers the way Montreal should have, or not.
    Either way, seven games of stellar hockey would be great. (And maybe decent officiating?)

  14. pepper says:

    Well, at least the Flyers have a good injury excuse now. Now let’s see some key players lost for the season on the other side, to recover fully in, say, 2020.
    And this Caps fan always drinks his coffee black, no sugar.

  15. JessMan says:

    THANK YOU pucksandbooks. Pennsylvania sucks, and the NHL can choke on their lovefest

  16. DCPensFan says:

    If you can’t beat them, play dirty, right?
    C’mon — you’re better than that.
    Besides, this series will be over very quickly if the Flyers can’t stay out of the box. They need to grind out even strenght goals and keep the Pens pinned in their own end to have a chance. Seems like every time they do, somebody gets called (correctly) for holding or hooking. Their first 2 goals of the series had them outworking the Pens down low. That’s how you beat Pittsburgh.
    Or, they can continue to play sloppy in their own end, turn the puck over, chase the play and either 1) get burned by the Penguin’s transition game or 2) take interfernce/hooking calls when the Pens cycle the puck down low.
    Or, they can take a run Malkin and Crosby. Whatever works, right?

  17. margaret says:

    my teacher is a huge pens fan, he keeps asking me who I’m rooting for now that the caps are out
    I keep telling him NEITHER
    its obvious the pens will win this round, I’m just hoping they lose the next one! can’t have the snobbish pens win the Stanley Cup.. eek

  18. buzzard says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Anyone but Pittsburgh…
    But damn, I hate rooting for the Flyers.

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