You can put Philadelphia Flyers
captain Mike Richards
on the list of people who are not at all surprised to see the Pittsburgh Penguins
back in the Stanley Cup Final.
"Two of the best players in the world on one team is definitely hard to stop," Richards told NHL.com Wednesday, referencing Sidney Crosby
and Evgeni Malkin
. "They got on a streak when they switched coaches. They got confidence back and when you got confidence it's a scary team to play against with that many skilled players. I'm not surprised. It's encouraging for the League for them to have success."
It's also frustrating for the Flyers, who have been knocked out of the playoffs by the Penguins two years running. Pittsburgh needed five games to win the Eastern Conference Final last year and six games to advance into the Conference Semifinal this year.
The Flyers will likely be measured against their in-state rivals to the west for years to come and they'll play second fiddle until they can get over the hump.
Richards, who had five points in this year's series against Pittsburgh, understands that, but he refused to say the Penguins will haunt the Flyers until then.
He instead believes the Flyers are nipping at the Penguins' heels and were it not for some great goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury
and a few lucky bounces ,Pittsburgh's season would have ended in April.
"Last year, give them full credit, they beat us and dominated us in a lot of parts of the game," Richards said. "I would never make excuses and this year they beat us and they're having a lot of success, but we thought we had a lot of success against them, outplayed them and outshot them, but we just couldn't beat Fleury. They had great goaltending and they're an opportunistic team. They capitalized on their chances.
"In playoffs, all the teams are so close and you need a couple of bounces to have success. Even though they have a great team, they got a couple of bounces and we didn't. It's not an excuse, though."
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org