Talbot, Jagr fill key roles in Flyers' win
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PHILADELPHIA -- The Flyers' special teams dominance played a major role in how they were able to beat the Penguins in this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Front and center in that effort were two of the Flyers' highest-profile free-agent signings this past summer, former Penguins center Max Talbot and right winger Jaromir Jagr.
After the Flyers' series-clinching, 5-1 win in Game 6 Sunday at Wells Fargo Center, they had different reactions to beating their former team.
"It was special for me because you play against team you played for six years," said Talbot. "I took it as a challenge. It was definitely special for me to win this playoff series."
Jagr, 11 years removed from playing for the Penguins, dismissed any extra significance in the win.
"I played there for a long time. I wanted to beat them because we were playing them," said Jagr, who finished with seven points, including five on the power play. "I wanted to beat them because they're a pretty good team, and it gave us a chance to play in the next round. It's nothing personal. Once you take things personal, it's not good."
Talbot, who scored three goals, including two short-handed, helped the Flyers coaches scout the series.
"We had a lot of conversations in my office talking about personnel and players that we're not as familiar with that maybe come in because of injury," said coach Peter Laviolette.
"Systems, when we go over it, Max is right there. So, not only was Max great on the ice, maybe he'll be a good coach as well."
Several of the Flyers players expressed satisfaction in beating the Penguins for Jagr and Talbot.
"There's two guys I'm very, very happy for. Those guys took a lot of heat for signing with the Flyers," said Philadelphia right winger Daniel Briere. "Obviously, we're happy they're on our side. Both of these guys had a tremendous role in this series. Very special for them. I'm very happy for them to finish with a big win like that."
The intensity of the rivalry between the two teams still was evident after it was decided.
"I'd like to congratulate the Flyers and their organization on the series win," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said before he fielded any questions from reporters.
Then, he lowered his voice to nearly a whisper.
"I really can't wish them good luck," he said.
With the benefit of having coached the team that is moving on, Philadelphia's Peter Laviolette had a slightly different tone.
"There's something about Pittsburgh," Laviolette said. "Their history recently, and probably being favorites in a lot of people's minds. To come out and play the way our group did and be able to move on, I think it speaks volumes.
"It's real satisfying to be able to move on against that team. A lot of people picked them. We were underdogs."
Penguins center Sidney Crosby seemed to struggle to answer a question about whether the Flyers are good enough to win the Stanley Cup.
"I think there's a lot of good teams," Crosby said. "They capitalized on all their chances. They've got a lot of good depth. I don't know.
"There's a lot of really good teams, but they're right in there in the mix."
Philadelphia never has lost a series in which it held a 3-0 lead.
That's not terribly surprising, considering that only three clubs in NHL history have.
The Flyers, however, came awfully close to it immediately after the Penguins squandered a 3-0 advantage against the New York Islanders in the second round in 1975.
Running off four consecutive victories against the Penguins earned the Islanders a spot in the Stanley Cup semifinals. They promptly dropped three in a row to the Flyers, then strung together three victories to force a Game 7.
The magic that had carried them through Round 2 against the Penguins, including a 1-0 victory in Game 7 at the Civic Arena, ran out, however, and the Islanders' season ended with a 4-1 loss in Philadelphia.
The Flyers went on to beat Buffalo in the Cup final for their second -- and most recent -- league championship.
First Published April 23, 2012 11:39 am