The 2010 Flyers: Relentless or Dominant?
I don’t know about you, but the 2008 Phillies championship ride was a nailbiter for me while it was going on.
I mean, they had to go through the Brewers, with CC Sabathia, the Dodgers, with Manny Ramirez and the Tampa Bay Rays, with David Price. Before the World Series, ESPN’s Stve Phillips said that the Phillies were “scared to death of David Price.”
I had never heard of him at the time, but if the Phillies were scared to death of him, I would be too. What do I know?
So it was nerve wracking.
Except, that, in retrospect, it wasn’t.
The Phils were dominant that postseason. They easily handled Sabathia and the Brewers, despite our fear and panic after losing a game. They crushed the Dodgers, despite us freaking out after losing a game. And after the infamous day and a half rain delay that came a half inning too late, we were convinced that the baseball gods (and Bud Selig) would not let them win.
Except they did.
Despite our in-series angst, the fact of the matter is that they were never seriously challenged in any of the series. They dominated all three en route to their first championship in 28 years.
Which brings us to this year Flyers. In two years, will we be looking back at this playoff run wondering why we were worried?
This team is at the tail end of a championship run. A week from now, when the parade is over and we are all metaphorically drinking from Lord Stanley’s Cup, we will look back at this historical run and see the following:
Greatness. On an historical level.
This team is talented. After all, The Hockey News picked them to win it all before the season started. If you had said to most fans before the season that Philly and Chicago were going to meet for the title, no one would have had a problem with it.
What we didn’t know was that they would go through two coaches, seven goaltenders, and an indescribable playoff run to get there.
But dominant? Can we really call them dominant this postseason?
Absolutely. Let’s break it down.
First, the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers hated rivals from up the turnpike were the second seed in the Eastern Conference. They had home ice advantage, history, experience and a future hall of famer in net in Martin Broduer.
The Flyers barely made the playoffs, needing a shootout win over the Rangers on the last day of the season.
Brian “Hot Tub Time Machine” Boucher beat Henrik Lundqvist in a shootout.
Not even Ms. Cleo could have seen that coming. And if you say you did, even right before the shootout happened, send me tomorrow’s winning Lotto numbers.
So, Devils win easy, right? I mean, that’s what all the experts were saying.
Except that Flyers were never really challenged in a 4-1 series that could easily have been a sweep.
Of course, that’s all well and good, but now the Flyers were going to have to face the hated Penguins in the second round. And if that weren’t bad enough, the Flyers lost Ian Laperriere, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne to potentially season ending injuries.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the in state brawl. The Montreal Canadiens beat the top seeded Washington Capitals, meaning THEY got to deal with the Pens. The Flyers drew the Boston Bruins, who, having upset the Buffalo Sabres, were a much better matchup for the Flyers.
But still, no Carter, no Laperriere, no Gagne plus a hot goaltenders spelled trouble for the boys in orange. Then they fell down 3-0 in the series.
Thanks for the run boys, see you in September.
But a funny thing happened to the end of the season. Gagne returned to claim the title of The New Boston Strangler in game 4, putting the team on his back and carrying them back to tie the series at 3.
Surely they wouldn’t complete the comeback? Especially after falling behind 3-0 in game seven in the first period?
When the tale of this championship season is told (kinda like it is being told now) the pivotal point will be right here. Coach Peter Laviolette called a time out and told his team to calm down, that they were going to win this thing, and to start playing.
Four goals later, including Gagne’s game winner, history was made. No team ever – in the history of organized sport – had come back from a 3-0 series deficit and a 3-0 deficit in game seven and won.
That should have told us everything we needed to know.
Still we worried.
After all, now we had Montreal, the team that had beaten Washington and now, Pittsburgh. They had the hottest goaltender on earth, speed to burn and a home crowd that is nearly as intimidating as we are.
Oh, did I mention the 24 championship banners that hang from the rafters of the top rated arena in the NHL?
So, naturally, the Flyers crushed them, four games to one, in a series that wasn’t ever close and included three shutouts.
Bring on the Chicago Blackhawks for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The experts said that the Flyers had a great run, but they hadn’t run into anything like this Chicago team. Chicago had run roughshod over the Western Conference, which was far superior that the Flyers’ East. They swept the San Jose Sharks, the team with the second best record in the NHL’s meaningless regular season. They would, the experts continued, make quick work of the Flyers, and hoist the cup in 4, or, at the most, 5 games.
They won the first two games at home. Their fans had brooms at the ready.
Then, they came to Wachovia Center.
Where playoff dreams come to die.
In a game 3 overtime thriller, Claude Giroux, with the prettiest tip in you’ll ever see, reminded everyone what this team is made of.
When we look back on this series in a week or so, game 4 will be remembered as the one that redefined the series.
The Hawks were not willing to work. And they got pounded for it.
Oh, they made a comeback and made it close at the end. But the fact of the matter is they were dominated for 50 minutes because they were unwilling to do what it took to win.
The Blackhawks take solace in the fact that two of the last three games of this NHL season may be played in Chicago.
I have bad news for them and their fans.
After game three, the Flyers have not lost a single game this postseason. They are 9-0 after the third game of a series.
So enjoy game five, Chicago. It will be your last there this year, for you, just like the Devils, Bruins, and Canadiens, have come up against a team that was just too dominant.
See you on Broad Street next Friday.