Well, we’ll have to wait at least another year to witness the Philadelphia Flyers hoist Lord’s Stanley Cup as they dropped Game 6 against the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday night in overtime, 4-3, watching Chicago celebrate their first Stanley Cup since 1961.
And, as much as it hurt to watch Jonathan Toews carry the Stanley Cup on the Wachovia Center ice in person, I cannot be anything more than grateful for what the Flyers have accomplished this spring.
The Flyers weren’t even supposed to make the playoffs, but they found a way in; beating one of the game’s top goalies in a shootout on the season’s final day. They upset the No. 2 seeded New Jersey Devils with much thanks to great goaltending by their backup, Brian Boucher.
Then they completed one of the greatest comebacks in sports history, winning four straight games against the Boston Bruins after finding themselves down 0-3 in the series, and 0-3 in Game 7. And, they lost Boucher to injury in Game 5 against the Bruins, leading the way for Michael Leighton to take over the starting duties.
But none of that stopped them as they tossed aside the Montreal Canadiens in five games to win the Eastern Conference, and get the chance to play in the Cup Finals for the first time since 1997.
In the final chapter of what could have been one of the greatest storybook seasons in the history of the sport, the Flyers ran into an opponent too strong in the Blackhawks. A team that was atop the NHL for the majority of the regular season, a team that had six Olympians, including three Gold Medal winners.
A team that posed too big of a challenge for the ever so resilient Flyers.
Chicago, who entered the Finals as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, took the first two games of the series. The Flyers were facing another deficit coming back to Philadelphia, this time down 2-0 to the Hawks, but they proved once more that they don’t believe in quitting, winning the next two to even the series 2-2.
The Blackhawks had their way with the Flyers in Game 5 in Chicago, and carried the momentum into Game 6 in Philadelphia until the final 10 minutes of the third period when the Flyers finally woke up, forcing overtime when Scott Hartnell scored his second goal of the contest after a Ville Leino pass deflected off his stick.
In overtime, the Flyers run came to an end when Patrick Kane scored from an awful angle, beating Leighton to end Chicago’s 49 year championship drought. The tank was empty, but they didn’t go down without a fight.
While all I want to do is to rip Leighton a new one for letting that puck get by him in OT, allowing a very soft goal to Patrick Sharp in the second period and the few other weak ones he gave up against the Hawks or call out Chris Pronger for playing terrible in the final two games of the series, I can’t be disappointed in this team.
All I, and every other Flyers fan, can be is proud.
This Flyers team never gave up, never quit, and kept fighting. No matter how bad it got, they kept going, kept believing. They proved to kids what their parents and coaches preach to them everyday, never give up because anything is possible.
They earned respect for a franchise that was widely known around the league as a bunch of goons by changing their style of play once Peter Laviolette took over as coach. They brought respect to a fan base who have been behind them since day one.
Today, I’m proud to be a Flyers fan.
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