There may not be a rivalry with more vitriol in it right now than the one between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Battle of Pennsylvania spilled over into the postseason, where things got very ugly on more than one occasion.
That mess also involved two of the biggest names on the planet, and each team’s respective superstar: Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux. The two went at it on the scoreboard and with their fists, with the intensity of the series taking over. The matchup between the two has the potential to develop into an all-time great rivalry.
Both of them had pretty strong performances in that series. Giroux was particularly impressive, finishing with 13 points in six games, including six in a Game 2 win. Crosby had eight in those six games. The two of them combined are obviously two of the best players in the world.
Giroux’s numbers reflected that, as he had a truly breakout season. He finished with 93 points, including 28 goals. And that’s with missing the five games that he was absent for due to a concussion.
Crosby obviously has the reputation of being the game’s greatest player right now, with his numbers so low due to the fact that he was in and out (mostly out) of the lineup with his lingering concussion issues. He’s declared himself healthy, though, and should return to the form that has already made him a Hall of Fame player.
The fact that the two are so talented, play the same position on their team’s top line, are in the same division, and are still so young, easily makes this a top rivalry by itself. Whenever they meet, it’s already a marquee matchup. But when you add the type of fire that these two teams have between each other, it gets even better.
The two dropped the gloves in that ugly Game 3. Giroux came out and set the tone in the next game by leveling Crosby in the early going. The result was a “war” of words that has continued even up until now.
After undergoing wrist surgery on both wrists, for different reasons, Giroux credited Crosby’s multiple slashes throughout the series as the reason. Crosby responded that it wasn’t intentional if he was responsible, but it also wasn’t something that he’d be sorry for if he was at fault.
As long as these two teams remain competitive, which seems likely given the market, this blossoming rivalry has the potential to become one of the all-time greats. More playoff success from the two could result in an even more intensely fueled meeting at least six times a year. No matter which fanbase you root for, be it Philly, Pittsburgh, or otherwise, this is going to be a fantastic rivalry to watch for years to come.