I've never been a huge believer in sports teams getting what they deserve, but after the Patriots' fall in February I began to come around. After witnessing the current Penguins' 11-1 run, I'm finding it hard not to see it connected to karma.
Every opponent/fan base we've faced has whined. Blamed it on the officials, on bad bounces, and everything but themselves. And while this has been going on no player on the Penguins has complained, instead they've continued to score goals and relished the shedenfreud of each empty net goal. Honestly, was there a non-gameplay related moment of this playoffs better than seeing the utter dejection in the faces of Flyers fans as the cameras panned the crowd after Malone's goal? Maybe its not right, but the defeat of others has become almost as enjoyable as the victory.
To see just how bad the whining has gotten, check out the AP report for the game, which has this gem of a paragraph:
"The loudest noises that reined down from the rafters at Wachovia Center came in the form of groans, first when Evgeni Malkin drew a questionable hooking call against Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher with a dive in the offensive zone, then when Whitney cashed in the Penguins' third power-play goal of the series."
The interwebs are not as fast as I would like them to be and I couldn't find the video of the penalty, but I don't see how an AP report, which is supposed to be about as unbiased of an article as you can find in journalism, could say definitively that it was diving. Maybe the whiners in the stands had some sort of influence on the writing, but as Pat pointed out in the post below, Hatcher is a "PIM-accruing 35 year old defenseman". Is it so shocking that he committed a penalty?
This scares me, though. Its gotten to the point that the bland recap you can find on any national sports site has begun to take an opinion based on questionable evidence. Either the Penguins are diving or everyone is complaining so much that the national media has to pay attention. The truth, as always, isn't discrete. As much as people want to complain about embellishment by Sid, and now Malkin, its extremely difficult to argue with the numbers.
Rangers Penalties: 30
Penguins Penalties: 34
Flyers Penalties: 18
Penguins Penalties: 14
The Flyers had the 3rd highest PIM in the league during the regular season. The fact they are taking more penalties is no surprise and no one's fault other than their own.
For some reason I don't see the fans in Detroit complaining. Maybe because they will be the favorite or maybe because they can appreciate a good hockey team. While the first three rounds of the playoffs has been fraught with little suspense for the Pens, the awaiting Stanley Cup finals should make up for it.
Hopefully, we only have to deal with the envy of fans for only one more game. If Hal Gill and Hossa continue to play the way they did last game it will be only one more game. But even if it takes another two or three, it sure beats the hell out of waiting another year, on top of 25, to see any of your teams win a championship. Enjoy the offseason, Philly.