This much is evident: Beating the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games took a lot more out of the Philadelphia Flyers than going seven with the Florida Panthers wore on the New Jersey Devils.
For those keeping score at home, in the conference finals so far are the teams that finished ninth, 11th and 13th overall in the regular season standings.
It’d be only fitting for the Washington Capitals to comeback and knock off the New York Rangers, so the 15th place team could complete the foursome.
Whatever you think is wrong with the NHL -- and players getting suspended for infractions that weren’t deemed worthy of a two-minute minor by the referees during the game has to be on the list -- there’s no arguing the parity in the league.
Also, the salary cap system has to be working when the Devils, who last season finished 23rd, are looking like a strong bet to win the Cup.
As for the Flyers, well, guess you could say they won their Cup when they knocked off the Penguins.
And somewhere, right now, Sidney Crosby is smiling.
STARTS AND STOPS: Hockey Night in Canada’s Garry Galley, the best colour commentator in the game, rightfully pointed out that Martin Brodeur deserved credit for starting the rush on New Jersey’s first goal. But Ilya Bryzgalov deserved more blame for not preventing it ... Oh wait, “Sauce” was all over that, too. “He had plenty of time to react,” Galley said of the Bryce Salvador wrist shot from the top of the left wing faceoff circle that was deflected and fluttered over Bryzalov ... As bad as he looked on that one, Bryzgalov was worse on the second Devils goal. A defenceman should never pass a puck back to him on purpose again .... “I’m actually surprised he’s still in the net,” HNIC’s Kelly Hrudey said of Bryzgalov with the Flyers trailing 2-1 at the end of one ... The Devils also hit a couple of posts before the game was half over. Is ‘bout now a good time to remind you that the Flyers only have Bryzgalov hooked for eight more years at a cap hit of $5.66 million per? ... Signing him seemed like a good gamble by Philly GM Paul Holmgren who, it could be argued, should now be fired because of it ... We’ve witnessed Anton Volchenkov dish out plenty of huge hits like the bomb he dropped on Brayden Schenn early in the first, but have never seen the “A-Train” crushed like he was by Zac Rinaldo a few minutes later. Wow.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM..: No hockey game to watch on TV Thursday? What’s happening with Grey’s Anatomy these days? ... The lovely and talented Lauren Hart wore a Jaromir Jagr jersey as she sang the Star Spangled Banner prior to the game. It was one of the few times all night anyone saw somebody in a Flyers No. 68 shirt ... I did notice Daniel Briere, however. I noticed him spear David Clarkson in front of the Flyers bench. That was about the only time ... Anyone else notice Brayden Coburn, after a whistle, gently put a shoulder into Danius Zubrus, then seemingly mock him for not going down? Sean Couturier and Max Talbot were far less subtle ... Josh Hamilton just hit his fourth home run of the night? Are the Texas Rangers on the tube Thursday? ...
BETWEEN PERIODS: T-shirts with the words “Rise To The Occasion” were handed out at the place formerly known as the FU Center before the game. Minus the suspended Claude Giroux, the Flyers best players clearly did not get one ... Classy move by Giroux to come out in his suit for the final handshake ... No idea how it works, but I liked that Flyerbot thing that printed fans’ tweets on the ground outside the Wells Fargo Center. You? ... Can’t blame goaltending on the Devils third goal. Three Bryzgalovs lined up in a row couldn’t have stopped that Ilya Kovalchuk blast.
Rinaldo could be dangerous tonight. Relentless hitter with an edge.
--@ChrisBottaNHL, who covers the NHL for The New York Times and Sports Business Journal. This tweet was before the game and proved to be dead-on.
“Hockey people are realists.” What the heck is Pierre (McGuire) talking about? Classic pompous inside-hockey smuggery. Barf.
--@LukeDeCock, a sports columnist for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. Missed the McGuire quote and its context, but pretty sure I now know his feelings on Pierre.
Since a Philly company made a beer called Sidney Crosby’s Tears, I fully expect a Pittsburgh bakery to sell Ilay Bryzgalov’s turnovers.
@Proteautype, a columnist for The Hockey News
Like many people at an advanced age, Martin Brodeur spends a lot of time wandering around aimlessly.
--@StevePoliti, a sports columnist for The Star-Ledger in New Jersey.