John Tortorella Hasn’t Yet Recognized Pittsburgh Penguins Rivalry
The wildest playoff series in NHL history fell in favor of the Philadelphia Flyers long before John Tortorella took the bench. They defeated the heavily favored Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs amidst chaos all over the ice.
The thought of owning space rent-free in a rival’s head thrilled the Philadelphia fan base. The Flyers were riding high on the back of Claude Giroux. It all ended there. They fell flat in the second round against the New Jersey Devils, and the next 11 seasons led to pure misery for the Orange and Black.
Penguins Dominate Flyers
The Flyers have slipped into the worst era in franchise history. The Ron Hextall era from 2013-2019 consisted mostly of mediocrity. The Chuck Fletcher era from 2019-2023 was an absolute disaster.
Meanwhile, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin led the Penguins to Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. Crosby has joined the ranks as one of the NHL’s all-time greats, and he’s scored more points against the Flyers than any other opponent in their franchise history.
The Flyers have announced the “New Era of Orange” under the leadership of Dan Hilferty, Keith Jones, Danny Briere, and John Tortorella. Could a newly-formed leadership group flip the rivalry script?
Their record against the Penguins is spotless so far.
The upstart Flyers took down their cross-state rivals at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh with a 3-2 shootout win on Saturday. They doubled down with a 2-1 overtime victory at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday.
John Tortorella Not Focused On Penguins
Have the Flyers finally neutralized the rivalry edge? The era of Crosby, Malkin, and Kris Leang is fading. The Penguins have depleted their farm system with an aggressive strategy to keep their window of contention open. However, they’re seventh in the Metropolitan Division in point percentage.
John Tortorella isn’t ready to flex his muscles in the faces of the Penguins. He tempered the victory by pointing out how little the Flyers have accomplished in their rebuild. He isn’t even ready to declare a rivalry.
“I don’t know about a rivalry. I guess it is. It’s the same state and all that. At least my tenure here (hasn’t been competitive with Pittsburgh). I think you need to get in the playoffs and play a series against them, and then it starts becoming a rivalry.” -John Tortorella
Travis Sanheim wants to pump the brakes. He doesn’t think the Flyers have caught up just yet.
“It’s hard to look at that way. Obviously, they’ve got the Cup wins. We’ve got a ton of respect for those guys and what they’ve accomplished, and we just play them hard every time we play them.” -Travis Sanheim
The home-and-home sweep was excellent for fans to enjoy. Any victory against a Metropolitan Division rival is. However, it’s one step of many in regaining traction in a rivalry that hasn’t been very competitive for the past decade.
Give the Flyers some credit, but don’t lose sight of the patience the organization has preached as part of the rebuild.