The Pittsburgh Penguins haven’t been doing much losing during the NHL playoffs. It’s possible…just possible…that on this night, they lost one for the fans.
Thousands of those fans gathered at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh on Thursday night, and the Pens weren’t even there. They were all the way across the state in Philly where, by the way, the Rocky statue was photographed wearing a Pens Jersey.
The Pittsburgh fans watched the match on the big screen in the parking lot, screamed their lungs out, then fell silent as the Pens failed to come back from the hole they had made for themselves by playing soft during a first period that saw the Flyers come out on fire with a 3-0 lead.
The Pens rallied during the third period, but it was too little, too late. Philadelphia fans chanted “We hate Crosby,” and the Flyers celebrated a 4-2 victory over their hated cross-state rivals.
On Sunday afternoon, the Pens will return to Pittsburgh to try their hand at Game Five. Many of the same fans who watched in the parking lot on Thursday night, and thousands more, will be back at Mellon Arena. And this time, so will Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal, Marion Hossa and the rest of the Pens.
Back in Pittsburgh, they’ll skate onto the ice in front of a rowdy bunch of fans who are just a little ticked off because the Pens didn’t complete the sweep and humiliate the Flyers.
The Pittsburgh Post’s Dave Molinari was with the Pens before their Game Four loss, and reported that they were “restrained. Low-key. Businesslike.” Pens center Maxine Talbot said the team wasn’t "focused" on Thursday night.
Does anyone think the Pens will be "low-key" on Sunday? Does any Pens fan think that they will lack "focus" when they return to Pittsburgh?
The Pens may have lost Game Four, and there will be no sweep of those dreaded Flyers. Maybe they lost so their fans could be on hand to see them win the Eastern Division and go on to the Stanley Cup finals. Or, maybe they lost Game Four BECAUSE they missed the energy of those fans.
Who knows? Who cares? On Sunday, Pens fans are betting all will be right with the world.