Now playing at your local multiplex, One Man and His Downtrodden Team Try to Poop on Your Hopes and Dreams. If you were with us way back in the early days of BMR during last year's playoffs, you'll remember that Bryan Murray is a fun character. He is so well liked that he even has a special Whiner Patrol label. So, it really came as now surprise when Murray said that the Pens tanked it on Sunday against Philly to get a first round match up with the Sens. Had the Pens won, they would have faced the much more physical Flyers in the first round.
"You guys all know - they wanted to play Ottawa," Murray said following practice Monday morning. "That's fine. That was fairly obvious from the drop of the puck."
Murray suggested the Penguins didn't want to get beat up by the hard-hitting Flyers.
"In a seven game series, if you don't like a physical way the Flyers play, it's probably better to go elsewhere."
He's not alone in that assessment. One Philadelphia columnist in the house Sunday dubbed Pittsburgh's performance "The Farce of the Penguins," and suggested karma might come back to bite them down the line.
Am I missing something here? Is there all of a sudden something wrong with a little gamesmanship and strategy (if that's really what is going on)?
I think Murray just has a problem with the fact that right now anyone would be more than happy to match up with the Sens. With all due respect, they're probably the worst of the playoff bound Eastern Conference teams. Maybe Murray wasn't around for it, but his team lost 17 of their final 26, dating back to mid-February. That dropped them from their season-long perch atop the Eastern Conference to 7th at the end of the season, almost missing the playoffs altogether. And hell, if the Pens would rather not give Riley Cote and Flyers the chance to pull a Dale Hunter on Sid or Malkin, who can blame them? Might as well take the path of least resistance if you can get it.
Pens fans are a pretty upbeat bunch for the most part. In Pittsburgh, this whole renaissance of sorts has given them all a rather glazed over look, like kids at FAO Schwartz for the first time. Like anyone else, they're a little upset about Murray raining on their division championship parade, tanking or not.
But let's face it, no matter what happened on Sunday Murray would likely have been pissed. This is the Whiner Patrol we're dealing with, after all. Had the Pens won, the Sens would have faced Washington in the first round. Who knows, maybe Murray would have accused them of playing over their heads in order to secure a matchup with the Sens. I'd believe it.
Maybe I'm being too hard on this guy. Maybe this could all be a consequence of Murray not taking a chill pill. With the team losing he has been under a lot of stress lately as both coach and general manager. In fact, Murray's job may even be on the line after firing John Paddock back in... oh my God I don't believe it... mid-February!!!