As the Blackhawks were running up the score in a 7-4 victory in Game Five, parallels between the 2010 Stanley Cup Final and last season's memorable seven-game series became increasingly evident—and that just might be the inspiration the Flyers need to pull off another stunning comeback.
Chicago scored in bunches during a five-minute stretch of the first period and forced starter Michael Leighton to the bench after he unravelled for the second time in three outings at the United Center. Brian Boucher relieved him as the Flyers tried to turn the tides before ultimately falling short in their comeback bid.
But Philadelphia returns home for Game Six on Wednesday night with confidence that they can perform an encore to Pittsburgh's march to a Stanley Cup upset.
Firstly, the home team has won every game of the series through five contests, like the championship battle last year, and the Flyers have been stellar at the Wachovia Center with a 7-1 record this spring.
Secondly, they are now only one of three NHL teams to battle back in a series after going down 3-0, so every hockey fan knows the team is not going to go away quietly.
More importantly, in the realm of the Stanley Cup Final, recent history in the 2009 rematch between Detroit and Pittsburgh says that really anything can happen.
A year ago, the Red Wings looked like they were going to comfortably capture back-to-back Stanley Cup victories after winning Game Five in a blowout at the Joe Louis Arena. In that 5-0 shutout, the eventual Cup-winning goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was pegged as the scapegoat in his third straight loss in Detroit.
But Fleury rebounded brilliantly over the next two games, not only winning the sixth game at the Igloo but limiting the Red Wings to only one goal in Game Seven on the road. Most memorably, he robbed Niklas Lidstrom as time expired to preserve Pittsburgh's third Stanley Cup championship.
The Penguins' improbable triumph in that epic seventh game broke the home winning streak, marking the only visitor to win away from home.
Fast forward and the Stanley Cup Final is unfolding in a eerily similar fashion. The Blackhawks are flying high after their most complete performance in the series and now have the chance to hoist hockey's ultimate prize in Pennsylvania—the same state in which the Red Wings could have earned another ring with a Game Six victory.
However, if the Penguins taught us anything last year—and if the Flyers have taught us anything this spring—there is more to be written about this classic series beyond the sixth game on Wednesday night.
Philadelphia has the opportunity join their Pennsylvania foes in Stanley Cup Final history—that is, if they are able to defend home ice and steal Game Seven in Chicago.
Interesting fact: Marian Hossa, who has been a staple in the last three Stanley Cup Finals, was on the Red Wings' squad that faltered after holding a 3-2 series lead. He will now try to close out a championship as a member of the Blackhawks and avoid losing three years in a row.