PITTSBURGH - Now the fun starts. It's the Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins for the sixth time in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The best-of-seven series gets underway at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday.
Before that could happen, though, there was the formality of Saturday's regular-season finale that meant nothing in the standings.
The Penguins won 4-2, and Evgeni Malkin got his 50th goal.
Nobody got hurt, so the Penguins accomplished what they wanted to get done.
As Sidney Crosby said, "Now it's the real thing."
One of the teams is going home after this series. With stakes like that, there's even more emotion in a series where the intensity is already at a high level.
It's up to the Penguins to stay under control and focus on playing their game.
The Flyers love to prod them, and believe they can get Malkin distracted with extra hits and bumps after the whistles.
The Penguins need to resist the temptation and stay out of the penalty box.
Everyone knows the Flyers as a tough team, but they have skill, too.
It's a series that figures to go six or seven games.
The pick? That will come in Wednesday's column in the Mirror.
The annual contest to guess how many games the Pirates will win this season closes on Monday afternoon at 3.
There's still time to get in, so check the "Mainly Mehno" blog at altoonamirror.com and make your pick.
Wait and see
Remember how upset people were when the Pirates traded Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves during the 2009 season?
Three years later, McLouth is back with the Pirates after signing as a free agent, and the deal is a clear win for the Pirates.
Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke and Gorkys Hernandez were the players acquired.
Morton will soon join the starting rotation after landing on the disabled list to start the season because of offseason hip surgery.
Locke and Hernandez are at Class AAA Indianapolis and on the 40-man roster.
The bottom line: Don't ever try to instantly judge a trade, especially when prospects are involved.
The Steelers have proclaimed the 2012 season, the franchise's 80th, "The Year of the Fan."
This comes just one month after they raised ticket prices for the fifth time in eight years.
Mehno can be reached at email@example.com