It is a very cool commercial (click on below). It was cut by the NHL before the start of the season. It features Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and a picture of his team after it lost to Detroit in the Stanley Cup finals.
Now they're back. The Flyers are in their way again, only two rounds earlier. Crosby is the player Philadelphia loves to hate, but it is way more complicated than that, this series. They all know it. And as they prepped for Game 1 at their morning skates, the Flyers and Penguins probably knew in their hearts that last year's five-game series victory by the Pens in the Eastern Conference finals isn't all that meaningful. A lot has changed, including the identity of the Penguins' coach.
But the rivalry is real and rich and deep and nasty, with Crosby at the center of it all. That is the same as last year. And he was saying after the skate, "I'm a little nervous but I slept fine, no problems there. It's just a little bit of nerves but that's more excitement for what's to come. Once you get out there and get going, it's pretty normal. If feels like everyone settles down. We've been through a lot of these in the last couple of years so we basically just use that and use that experience to calm yourself down."
He talked about the Flyers and said, "We played them last year and they were down a few guys (Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn and Simon Gagne, to name three). They're back. That's going to help them."
And Crosby talked about that feeling after the Penguins finally lost. He said, "That's over. You take the experiences that you went through but, if there's any motivation, it's that feeling...But it's gone. It's washed away. It's a new season all over again."
And they are all nervous. It is hard for all of them. Hockey players live for this day, the first day of the playoffs. They work 6 months for it. They batter their bodies for it. They wrapped themselves into the notion of a long run in the springtime and they are jumping out of their skins as the faceoff approaches. That is how much this means to them. That is the timeless emotion.