Archive for May 16, 2010

It’s Flyers-Canadiens in the Conference Finals

Posted in Uncategorized on May 16, 2010 by flyersfan44

That’s right, screw NBC and Gary Bettman, the Flyers and Canadiens have both improbably advanced to the conference finals. No Ovechkin or Crosby to be found. The seventh and eighth seeds in the conference, neither team was expected to go very far in the playoffs. The Flyers have overcome a rash of injuries, including to two of their top forwards and goalies and a three games to none deficit in the conference semifinals. The Canadiens, who also squeaked into the playoffs at the end of the season, defeated the top team in points (Washington) and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Evil Empire (Pittsburgh) to reach the conference finals. Both teams can lay claim to the “team of destiny” idea.

This should be another long series, as Montreal has played well defensively in shutting down the Caps and Pens, and goalie Jaroslav Halak has been sensational. The Flyers have also been tight checking and have gotten good balance up front as players have stepped up to overcome the injury situation.

The prediction? You gotta think the Flyers may be drained from the emotion, length, and physicality of the last series, but then again maybe they’re on a high and can ride the momentum. Give the Canadiens the edge in goal, although Halak can get rattled, but give the Flyers an edge on defense and up front. They are much bigger than Montreal and if they can bang them around, that along with a little more balanced scoring could be the difference. The Flyers are believing in themselves and defenseman Chris Pronger’s experience, calmness, and shut-down capability should help the Flyers win in seven.

In the Western Conference match-up, I’ll take the Sharks in seven.

History Is Made! Flyers Complete Nearly Impossible Comeback

Posted in Uncategorized on May 16, 2010 by flyersfan44

Bruins fans after the game.

Dejected Bruins after time expires.

Mike Richards and Simon Gagne celebrate the winning goal. Check out the Bruins fan!

The Flyers have gone down in NHL history by completing a nearly impossible comeback from a three games to none deficit to win the Eastern Conference Semifinal series against Boston. Only the third team to ever do so, the Flyers join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders as teams that have come back from a three games to none deficit.

Game seven itself turned out to be a microcosm of the series, as the Bruins built a 3-0 lead in the first period. The Flyers came out too charged up, and probably nervous, and took a couple undisciplined penalties that led to two Boston power play goals. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette (this guy continues to amaze) called a timeout and spoke to the entire team, settled them down, and made them believe that they could come back. When James Van Riemsdyk scored late in the first period, it gave the Flyers some life.

Early in the second, Scott Hartnell, who has stepped up and is playing better and better the last few games, scored to make it 3-2. Credit also goes to Ville Leino, who made a terrific shot as he was falling that led to the rebound that Hartnell put over Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. Leino has also stepped up of late, looking more confident as he gets more playing time, and contributed two assists in Game 7.

Danny Briere, who has been on fire during the playoffs, tied the game later in the second with a great effort, swooping in and around the net before banking a shot off of a couple Bruins and past Rask. The third period was a nerve-wracking affair with both teams hitting the post. After a Bruins’ penalty for too many men, Simon Gagne (another savior for the Flyers after coming back with a broken toe) grabbed a rebound in the circle and picked the top corner over Rask’s shoulder to give the Flyers a 4-3 lead with about seven minutes left. The Flyers held on to complete the historic comeback in what will go down as one of the greatest games and series in their history and in NHL history.

Watching this unfold, it felt surreal. It was hard to believe what I was seeing. In a year when the NHL rolled out an advertising campaign for the playoffs that has the tag line “History will be made”, this was an absolutely fitting experience. Give credit to this Flyers team that has overcome so much adversity – injuries, losing streaks, coaching change – this season but has never quit. Relentless!