Philadelphia Flyers Collapse In Front of Raucous Crowd to End Season

C KSenior Analyst IApril 25, 2009

It was the loudest the Wachovia Center has ever been during pre-game.

It was the loudest the Wachovia Center has ever been during the first period and was the loudest the Wachovia Center has ever been during the first five minutes of the second period.

Then, all of a sudden, it was gone—the deafening roar of the 20,072 fans dressed in orange was silenced.

After scoring two goals late in the first, and a third early in the second, to take a 3-0 lead, the Flyers flicked their energy switch to 'off' in a matter of seconds.

It was mind-boggling to see a team play so well for a period of time, and then play so terrible after it.

Mike Knuble scored; the arena went into frenzy. Joffrey Lupul ripped one into the top shelf; the arena's roof flew off. Danny Briere flipped one by Fleury; the arena was about to explode completely.

The crowd was as enthusiastic as ever, as they were living up to their name as "Most Intimidating Fans in Hockey", plus more.

"Crosby sucks!" chants spread throughout the crowd, and cheers for for the men in orange and black reigned throughout the building.

Then it was gone—Ruslan Fedotenko—I always hated him.

Mark Eaton. What a terrible last name.

Sidney Crosby. He's got his own life supply of Kleenex's, but that wasn't enough. After those three worked to tie the game at 3-3 going into the second intermission, the chest of Flyers fans were ripped open. Sergei Gonchar finished the job.

He ripped our hearts out with all his might, putting the Penguins up 4-3 early in the third period.

There was no answer from the Flyers. We expected to see some fire thrown back at the Penguins in the third, but the opposite happened. The Penguins continued to dominate play.

Four close chances in the span of five minutes, including a shot off of the inside post, kept the best fans in hockey's hearts alive. Not for long.

Soon enough, not to my liking, Martin Biron was pulled. Shockingly, the team who had been dominating play ever since the halfway point of the game continued to control the puck, even with the other team up a man. What a surprise.

Crosby finished the game off with an empty-net goal, reassuring that his tears will have a chance to flow for at least four more games.

The final buzzer rang, and it was over. For the second season in a row, the Flyers' upstate rivals sent them packing from the playoffs.

Had the Flyers played a different team in this first round, would they have won?

Maybe. Maybe not.

All I know is that the Flyers outplayed the opposition in game two, game three, game four, game five, and thirty minutes of game six. Yet, they still were not able to come out on top in three of those five games.

Just goes to show you how good the Penguins are.

They allowed very few odd-man rushes, they controlled the neutral zone, they beat the Flyers to the puck all series, and Marc-Andre Fleury was outstanding.

That's the formula for success, is it not?

The off-season begins in Philadelphia tonight, unfortunately.

Is a coaching change needed?

Is a new goaltender needed?

How about a big, strong, defensive player?

Do we need to take a trip to Foot Locker and buy off a few referees?

We could ask the Penguins how much they cost. Whatever it is, next year will come soon enough.

Whether the Flyers will be an improved squad or not remains to be seen. Yet, we do know that the best fans in hockey will be back stronger than ever next season.

The showing during these playoffs produced three of the loudest games in Wachovia Center history. The passion from the stands was present at all times.

It simply was not enough.

Will it be enough next seasons?

We'll have to wait and see.

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