The Pittsburgh Penguins are moving on to the second round of the playoffs and they have a timely fight by Maxime Talbot to thank for it.
With the Penguins trailing 3-0 early in the second period and looking very much like road kill, Talbot decided to pick a fight with Daniel Carcillo and was obviously hugely overmatched. He lost the fight, of course, but his courageous effort against Carcillo galvanized the Penguins like never before in the history of their franchise and sparked them to score five unanswered goals to win Game 6 and take the series.
Does anybody actually believe this garbage? Evidently, yes. To be sure, the guys who work at Hockey Night in Canada, who had trouble containing their saliva glands after the fight, believe that was the case. For the rest of the game, all they could talk about was how the Talbot fight changed the course of the game and led the Penguins to victory.
What a bunch of hooey. If losing a fight could spark a team like that, then why didn’t Daniel Briere go after Brooks Orpik when the Flyers blew their lead and got down by a goal early in the third period? Briere could have gotten himself beaten up, but it would have inspired the Flyers into some kind of lather and they would have scored to tie the game.
The Penguins won the game and the series, not because of a meaningless fight between two marginal players. They won because somebody finally got the message through to Ruslan Fedotenko that the playoffs had started and the Penguins finally got some scoring from players not named Crosby and Malkin.
The Penguins got back in the game because Martin Biron started looking like Martin Biron again and Marc-Andre Fleury started looking like himself in the second period. The Penguins got back in the game because they realized they were giving up the blueline to the Flyers and stopped doing that.
The Flyers, on the other hand, started giving up the blueline to the Penguins and allowed their talented players to dangle around their zone. The Penguins got back into the game because they realized they have far more talent that the Flyers and began to use it.
And most of all, it was Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin who led the Penguins to victory. Pittsburgh’s two best players were absolutely dominant in the game. They have both been terrific throughout the series and took control of the game, which could provide an interesting portent for the rest of the playoffs if they continue to play the way they did in the first round against the Flyers.
But go ahead and believe it was because of a meaningless fight between Maxime Talbot and Daniel Carcillo if you wish. You certainly won’t get any disagreement from the people who work for Canada’s national broadcaster.
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Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell's Cuts, appears Mondays.
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