In case you were living under a rock for the past 48 hours, the hockey world is all a-buzz about the fracas-filled conclusion to the Penguins-Flyers game on Sunday afternoon. With the normal intensity of a Pitt/Philly matchup, amped up by a potential first round playoff series, the game had everything a hockey fan wants:
Goal scoring, check.
Big hits, check.
Coaches screaming at each other, then getting ejected, check.
Two fellas from different worlds, with nothing in common but the skates on their feet, finding a "special" relationship on the ice, che...wait, what?!?!?
In case the Penguins captain didn't know who was wearing the No. 10 Flyers jersey on Sunday, I'd be willing to bet he does now. The younger of the NHL Schenn's decided that Sunday would be the day that he shadowed Crosby to the level of annoyance and possibly beyond.
The Flyers rookie, Schenn has been an impactful, grinding forward this year for the Flyers. His offensive stats don't jump off the page at you but when you watch him play you see a strong skating, two way forward who gets back on defense and will get dirty in the corners. Schenn has also shown a nose for the net, finding the net 11 times in his official rookie year. While his future looks bright as a top-six forward on the Flyers, he has played his role well this year.
What is the next step in the relationship between Crosby and Schenn?
The spotlight was on Schenn Sunday for the first time in his young career as he took center stage for his crosscheck on Pens captain Sidney Crosby. While NBC replayed the cheap shot by Schenn ad-nauseaum, what they failed to replay or note was Crosby's frustration boiling over and whacking the Flyer rookie prior to Steve Sullivan's goal. While Schenn's offense was certainly more egregious, it was hardly unprovoked. At least one NBC analyst was paying attention:
"Little goody two shoes goes into the corner and gives a shot to Schenn,” Milbury told Philadelphia radio station 94WIP. “Schenn was late to the party, he should have turned around and drilled him right away, but I guess better late than never. So you know, Crosby gets cross-checked, big whoop,” Milbury said of the hockey star who sat out games for more than a year after a concussion. He said after he came back from his 35th concussion, ‘I'm not going to do this any more, I'm not going to get into these scrums, I'm going to stay away from that stuff,'” Milbury continued. “He couldn't help himself because there's a little punk in Crosby. He's not the perfect gentleman. He's not the sweet kid you see in interviews with his hat pulled down over his eyes. I'd say screw him, hit him.”
Milbury, clearly under pressure from the league, and his employer issued a rather vanilla apology today.
Although no one cares to replay the shots that Schenn took before he went after Crosby, it was clear the young Saskatoon native had gotten under Crosby's skin. Shadowing him on the ice for the better part of the first two periods hardly merits Selke consideration for Schenn. It did help minimize Crosby's impact on the game, and was a key to the Flyers scoring five unanswered goals after falling behind early.
Saturday's upcoming replay will probably not live up to the hype and all the trash talk between the two Pennsylvania fan bases. No one will be surprised if Sid gets a 24-hour bug Friday night and skips the regular season finale. There will probably be a skirmish or two, some fisticuffs between the usual suspects and some sparkling offense from two of the most talented teams in the NHL.
One thing is for certain, this budding "bromance" between Sid the kid and Brayden the....uh Schenn, will be in full bloom for all to enjoy as the hockey gods will hopefully see the interstate rivals square off for real next week.