As the NBC Sports Group analysts weighed in during an open press conference yesterday, it was clear that one series in the East was garnering most of their attention. It was the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia series.
Here are some of the best quotes from yesterday’s teleconference from NBC and the NHL:
Eddie Olczyk: It's one of those you see from the outside the perception of how intense and nasty it is, and it's every bit of that from a player's point of view, especially in a playoff series. Didn't have that opportunity as a coach. But it's a fever pitch.
It's your arch rival. It has everything that kind of comes along with what's taken place in the past. I think both teams have played so well in stretches over the course of the season, they've all had their injuries, they've all overcome them.
They have two terrific coaches. Every period is emotional. I think that the team that can play with that controlled emotion, especially in a seven game series, will have the upper hand.
What you see, it's even way more on the inside, if that makes any sense.
Keith Jones: Both coaches have won the Stanley Cup in the past. They know which buttons to push. One of those buttons will be controlling the emotion of their players, making sure they play on the edge but not over it.
I think if you look at both lineups, they're loaded with offensive talent, which in most cases should lead to successful power plays. I think both teams want to make sure they stay disciplined but still play with the same passion that their fans demand. If you look at the two fan bases, very similar.
Blue collar workers that expect you to bring your lunch pail with you when you show up on the ice. You look at some of the guys that played for both teams in the past, Mark Recchi, won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh, amongst other places, John LeClair played for the Flyers, went to the Penguins for a short time, there's a bunch of guys that played in both spots. Each team looks at each other and in some cases are mirror images of each other.
Pittsburgh star power may be a little bit ahead, but with a guy like Giroux in the mix, it certainly can be a great equalizer from Philadelphia.
Pierre McGuire: What's interesting, Philadelphia won their two Stanley Cups, their coach was Fred Shero. They had a stick boy in the dressing room by the name of Ray Shero. He's now the general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
A lot of the ideology that he took from watching his dad's Philadelphia Flyers teams win the Stanley Cup, he's tried to implement with the Pittsburgh Penguins. It comes down to determination, grit, coaching, and guys that respect the emblem they play for. When you think about it, there's a lot of insider trading on both sides of this equation.
*All the quotes in this story were from an NBC/NHL conference call of April 9, 2012.