Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Flyers Rattle Sabres In Buffalo

As predicted, the Eastern Conference match up between the Buffalo Sabres and the Philadelphia Flyers has turned nasty. In game one, Brian Campbell may have started an all out war when he laid this beauty on the Flyer's R.J. Umberger. The heat was turned up several notches in game two when the Sabres jumped out to a 5-0 lead after one frame and Philly decided to turn back the clock to the days of the Broad Street Bullies. Denis Gauthier earned himself a game misconduct, and likely another suspension, after hammering Thomas Vanek from behind into the boards. Were it not for the timely head-tuck-shoulder-roll maneuver performed by Vanek at the time of the hit, he would likely have been leaving the HSBC Arena on a stretcher. Later in the game Flyer's goalie Robert Esche appeared to lose his mind as he decided to rush the Sabre's players bench, drop his gloves and attempt to take on both Toni Lydman and Derek Roy simultaneously. There was no obvious reason for Esche's snapping (other than getting lit up for five in the first period), but the Buffalo fans' mocking chant of "U-S-A" (referring to Esche's selection to the US Olympic team over Buffalo's minder, Ryan Miller) may have had something to do with it.

As much drama as there was on the ice, it was the two teams' head coaches who managed to save the best for last. In the post game press conference Sabre's coach Lindy Ruff called out the Flyers by claiming that they "acted like idiots". In response to this Ken Hitchcock threw out the "don't judge me" defense and claimed that he had witnessed some of Ruff's teams acting the same way. Which, by the way, sounds like an admission of guilt rather than a denial of how his team acted. The crowning moment of the whole thing was when Hitchcock, while exiting the conference room, threw out this tasty quote:
Tell Lindy to fuck off, to mind his own fucking business.

I laughed for a solid minute after seeing it on a TSN highlight.

In my estimation, this has been the most entertaining series to watch in these playoffs, and while I hope nobody on either side of this war gets hurt, I do hope that the intensity of the series continues. I would honestly be surprised if the Flyers were able to take even one game in this series, and it would be a testament to Hitchcock's coaching if he could pull his team back together for a victory. Right now Philly looks like a team that has lost its cool and the next couple of games could get chippy as hell. However, I would suspect that even the smallest indiscretion will draw a whistle from the refs for the remainder of the games between these two teams.


At 4:36 AM, Blogger Alex said...

Nick Kypreos said that Gauthier doesn't deserve to be suspending, on the basis that Vanek didn't get hurt, and that there was enough separation between the players and the boards.

Of course, if you asked Kipper about his falling onto and injuring Grant Fuhr in the '96 playoffs, he'd probably say he did nothing wrong there either. How he still has a job is beyond me.


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