WITH HIS skates finally untied and his equipment shed, Max Talbot took an extra second to soak in the emotion and glory of eliminating the Penguins team he had spent the last six seasons with, before a low-ball offer brought him to Philadelphia last summer.
All season, Talbot said he had a feeling the Flyers and Penguins would meet in the first round — an eventuality he was well-prepared to face.
Talbot just missed wide on an empty-net goal in the final minutes that would have been sweet icing on an emphatic but emotionally draining series. He finished with three goals and an assist in six games, and as a plus-5. All three of Talbot's goals were on special teams.
Talbot said the series win was incredibly satisfying. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said Talbot was a big part of the game-planning process.
"Max and I had a lot of conversations in my office, talking about personnel, players we're not as familiar with that maybe come in because of injury, systems, and we go over it," Laviolette said. "I think any time you get a player that is well-versed on the opponent, you spend a lot of time with them. I think you utilize what you can. Not only was Max great on the ice, maybe one day he'll make a great coach as well."
In the postgame handshake line, Talbot embraced close friend and former teammate Marc-Andre Fleury.
"Everybody knows the little 'bro-mance' we got going there," Talbot said. " 'Flower' is always going to be my friend. It's never easy to play against your friends like that, but we competed."
When Scott Hartnell stood in a nearly empty locker room in Pittsburgh on Friday night, he said the Flyers needed to feel pain in order to finally give the Penguins the death knell on Sunday.
By the time it all ended, Kimmo Timonen was limping around with an ice pack taped to his leg. Defenseman Andreas Lilja had bruises all over his body. The list of black and blue marks throughout the Flyers' locker room would take longer to assemble than a dictionary.
A key to the Flyers' Game 6 win was their 40 blocked shots, the most by any NHL team in a playoff game in more than two springs. Their season-high this year was 28. As a whole, the Flyers blocked 116 shots in the series.
"I'm not sure I've seen that in a playoff game. I'm sure it's happened a bunch of times, but usually it's in the 20s," Peter Laviolette said. "You look at the sheet at the end of the night, when you see 40 blocked shots, you know that there's a team that's committed to something, that wants to get to the next round."
"You saw Scott Hartnell diving on his two knees to block a shot," Claude Giroux said. "It was kind of close to his private areas, but he still did it."
Rookie Erik Gustafsson led the way with seven blocks. Matt Carle and Lilja added another six apiece.
"Everybody chipped in for us," Ilya Bryzgalov said. "If you want to win, you have to sacrifice yourself by blocking shots. Do whatever it takes to protect the net; that is how you win games. There is no big prize for winning this game. It's the price you have to pay."
After being eliminated, no Penguins - including Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal - would give the Flyers their endorsement as a favorite to represent the East in the Stanley Cup finals.
Either way, the second round is not likely to start until Friday or Saturday, with quite a few series still playing. The Flyers were the first to advance to the second round out of the East.
Since Washington failed to oust Boston on Sunday, the Flyers still can face the Rangers in the second round. They have lost eight straight to New York. Other than the Rangers, that leaves four teams the Flyers handled this season as possible opponents: Florida (3-1-0), New Jersey (3-2-1), Ottawa (2-1-1) and Washington (3-1-0). The Flyers were 1-1-2 against Boston, the defending Stanley Cup champs.
Scott Hartnell said his postgame media session was getting in the way of "hockey-watching time." Danny Briere said he wasn't going to be rooting for any team in particular.
"I think we just beat one of the best teams in the league so it doesn't matter who we play next," Briere said. "I'm going to watch, but we'll take whoever it is. It's always the way we've approached it. When you win your first round, usually you're on a roll so no matter who we play, it's going to be a tough battle."
According to FlyersHistory.com, the Flyers are 90-28-4 all-time when Kate Smith sings "God Bless America" pregame - either in person, through recording or in a duet with Lauren Hart . . . The Flyers are 12-4 at Wells Fargo Center in the playoffs since being ousted by Pittsburgh on April 21, 2009 . . . The 26 goals scored by Pittsburgh this series tied a franchise record for goals allowed in a six-game series; the Islanders also netted 26 in 1980.
"I think looking back on Game 1 in particular, and also Game 2, we had the lead, up 3-0 and 3-1. I'll spend a lot of time thinking about that. I want to congratulate the Flyers organization on the series win, but I really can't wish them good luck."
- Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, on where it all went wrong for Pittsburgh.