The Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers are third and second in the Metro Division standings. If and when hockey resumes this summer after the coronavirus pause, the Penguins and Philadelphia are likely to be Round One opponents.
One of the wildest rivalries in the NHL, which has included the Penguins 15-year losing streak in Philadelphia (0-39-3), the famous or infamous Max Talbot scrap with Daniel Carcillo in the 2009 NHL playoffs and subsequent “shhhh” motion to the Philadelphia crowd, Mario Lemieux’s five goals in Game 5 of the 1989 series, to surly Flyers goalie Ron Hextall swinging his goalie stick with ill intent and chasing Penguins winger Robby Brown in that same 1989 game, never disappoints.
And the series have rarely been predictable.
Yet as the second and third teams in the division, by several return-to-play scenarios, the battle of Pennsylvania could be fought at a neutral site, with all of the hate and intensity included.
Philadelphia Flyers pre and postgame host, and bruising player in his day, Chris Therien video chatted with former teammate and Penguins assistant coach Mark Recchi on Tuesday afternoon.
“We actually think if we do play, we’re going to probably end up playing them, so we’re kind of preparing like we are anyways,” Recchi said.
Penguins fans probably don’t need a rivalry out of the gate to get excited for the return of hockey, but it sure won’t hurt, either. The Philadelphia Flyers were out of the playoffs, but a remarkable run through February vaulted them into second place.
Philadelphia was 18-5-1 before the coronavirus break. PHN also looked ahead to potential series and the matchup.
“They really came together as a team this year. They’ve become a really stingy team,” said Recchi. “Our first 40 or 50 games, with all of our injuries, we kind of played to that same identity.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins had one of the four best records in the NHL at the All-Star break but conversely sputtered towards the season pause.
“They’re a really good team and they were stingy. When we played them those couple of games right before the (All-Star) break, and then we played them not long after, were tough games,” the Penguins assistant coach said. “They were playing really, really good hockey. So, if we end up facing them, we know no matter what, we’re going to be in for a dogfight.”