Thanks, Flyers, for a Great Run

Once in a great while the Orange and Black Attack is prophetic. Check an earlier post at the beginning of the playoffs and there’s mention that the Flyers, if they make a good run in the playoffs, could redeem themselves after a mediocre and sometimes turbulent season. Well, I’d say they did just that. After just barely squeaking into the playoffs on the last shot of a shootout in the last game of the season, the Flyers went all the way to Game 6 of the Cup Final, playing some great, resilient, gutsy, and highly entertaining hockey along the way. We were treated to the defeat of the best goalie in the league, Martin Brodeur, in the first round, a stunning and historic comeback from a three games to none deficit in the second round against Boston, a record three shutouts in one series against Montreal, and a six game final in which just about every game was close. We saw gutsy performances from players like Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, who each returned early from broken feet, and Ian Lapierriere who returned to play late in the playoffs after taking a puck to the head in the first round. We saw two journeyman goalies playthrough injuries at a high level, trading the starting job through the playoffs and yet maintaining playoff-level performances. We saw players who were questioned during the regular season – notably Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere, and Simon Gagne – have fantastic playoffs with Briere tying a Flyers’ record for most points in one playoff year and Hartnell leading all players with five goals in the Final. We saw a 26 year-old rookie, Ville Leino, suddenly become a magician with the puck and make the kind of jaw-dropping plays that people said he was able to make in Finland once he got the chance here. He broke a Flyers’ record for most points in a playoff year by a rookie. We enjoyed watching a former Norris Trophy winner, veteran Chris Pronger, play 30 minutes a game as a 35 year-old and be a dominating presence on the blueline.

After tying the Final series at two games each, it looked as though the Flyers just ran out of gas. They were a step slower than the younger Blackhawks in games 5 and 6. They seemed as though they gave all they could. It’s definitely disappointing that they got this close and didn’t win it all (again) but there’s promise for the future with the performances we saw in the playoffs. We saw how good this team can be.

Next, we’ll take a look at the off-season changes that the Flyers could make as they try to improve for the 2010-11 season.

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