Thursday, May 13, 2010

Philadelphia Flyers: TEAM OF DESTINY?

OK, I'll admit: most of the reason I decided to write this post was so I could write that title.

I will also admit that, as sad as my friends are about it, it is very satisfying to see the Pens drop out like this. Not because I take pleasure in the pain of the Pens themselves (well, maybe Matt Cooke's) or of my friends, but because I take pleasure in the pain of the goddamn national media that covers hockey. When Staal scored to bring the Pens within 2 goals, one of the Versus announcers even said "Finally, this is what we've been waiting for." It's those guys that I really love seeing squirm, and my father's reports of NHL Live today (or, as I sometimes call it, the Penguins show), floundering around and saying things like "well, Crosby's still young" and "well, I guess you can't win it every year" - like the whole NHL should be taken aback that Crosby isn't winning the Cup again - have, well, almost made me want to watch NHL Live. Almost.

But, seriously, Pens fans, take some solace here. You root for a very good hockey team, which is fortunate enough to be shaping up to be consistently competitive every season for years to come. That is awesome for you. It always sucks to see your team go out, but there really are other good hockey teams in the NHL besides yours. I know that yours is inexplicably the only team whose exit prompted to write an article entitled "...Season Ends without a Championship," but 29 hockey teams do that each and every season, and of those 29, yours won it most recently and is among the ones that will have another good run next season. Imagine what it's like to root for a consistent loser like the Rangers.

And as for the Habs, the best part, from where I'm sitting, is that everyone can stop acting like it's everyone's fault but yours that you keep winning hockey games. Every reason in the book was thrown down for these victories outside of "the Canadiens are a pretty good hockey team." And, yes, admittedly, what you've been tearing through is the bullshit of the two NHL conferences. But even so, as put it today, "The Montreal Canadiens have completely shed the Cinderella tag once and for all. There will be no more talk of glass slippers and clocks striking midnight for the No. 8 seed. It is now time to give the Canadiens credit for what they have accomplished." Congratulations.

And then there's that game from last night that no one is talking about, due to a combination of it not involving the Penguins and no one having any idea what to say about it. Last night, the Flyers beat the Bruins 2-1 (it was 2-0 until the Bruins scored with 1:00 left and Rask pulled).

In doing so, the Flyers did something that has only been done 5 other times in NHL history: forced a game 7 after being down 3-0 in a playoff series. Three of those times, the team that had been down 3-0 ended up losing anyway (the 1939 Rangers to the Bruins in the semifinals, the 1945 Red Wings to the Maple Leafs in the finals, and the 1975 Islanders to the Flyers in the semis). That leaves only two times in NHL history that a team has gone down 3-0 and ended up winning the series: the 1942 Maple Leafs, over the Red Wings in the finals; and those same 1975 Islanders, who, one round prior to going down 3-0 and then losing in 7 to the Flyers, had gone down 3-0 and then beaten the Penguins, in the quarterfinals.

Interestingly, with the exception of the Islanders beating the Penguins in 1975, each of the other Game 7 winners listed here (including the Flyers that beat those 1975 Islanders) ended up being the Stanley Cup winners that year. So...are the Philadelphia Flyers the TEAM OF DESTINY?

I mean, no. First of all, with the exception of 1975, this was back when there were only 6 or 7 teams in the league, so winning one series made it very likely that you would win the Cup - in fact, the Maple Leafs and Red Wings series mentioned above were both Cup Finals. Second of all, that's stupid, and it's too small a sample size to mean anything. Finally, and I want to make this very clear: the Flyers aren't that good. Seriously, this isn't like the Canadiens blowing through the Presidents' Trophy winners and then the defending Cup champions or anything. The Bruins have been playing very shitty hockey.

Credit to the Flyers: they've taken advantage of this and done what they had to do to win hockey games. But this is not nearly as exciting for the Flyers as they think it is. The Bruins are playing just awful hockey right now. If the Flyers win Friday night, it will be fun to see them hit the wake-up call of having to play the Canadiens. It will also be neat that they are the third team to ever do that, and doubly neat that the Eastern Conference finals are played by the last two seeds in the East.

That said, I don't want any of those neat things to happen. Fuck the Flyers. The sooner the other Pennsylvania team is out of the playoffs, the sooner I can just sit back and enjoy the rest of the hockey season. Knocking the Pens out was huge, now let's finish this, get these dirtbags out of the playoffs, and celebrate a final four of which three are from the Original Six. Come on, Bruins. All you've done lately, in the words of Eddie Izzard, is "slowly collapse, like a flan in a cupboard." Win one damn hockey game.

Hockey is awesome!

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