What can you say about last night’s win that hasn’t been said already? We all knew the story, even the ones who jumped on the bandwagon knew what last night’s game meant. Yet, what I was a part of last night will stick with me forever.
I walked into the Wach last night for the viewing party and got my courtesy “LET’S GO FLYERS” sign. There were drunk high school kids, die-hard fans, and casual fans all around me who all wanted the same thing: one more game, and one more round. The chants were cranked up to 11 as my friends and I made our way to our seats (Section 108/109). It filled up quickly as orange quickly swallowed the dark red color of the seats. The Flyers crew was walking around, and popped up on the screen from time to time to get the fans into it. What happened next gave me as big of goosebumps as I’ve ever had an actual Flyers game: Lauren Hart coming on screen with a recording of a recent rendition of “God Bless America”. You thought it was loud when we got there? Kate Smith stole the show. I was not even a thought when she sang on this particular recording, yet I as well as everyone else in attendance knew the significance of this song. My arms were prickly with goosebumps as the last chords of the song ran out, and then it erupted as the VERSUS feed came onto the screen and showed us fellow Flyers fans going nuts.
Things got tough early, as an over-aggressive Hartnell got called for a high-sticking penalty early and we were quickly down 1-0. Then, Briere got called for a suspect slashing penalty and we were down 2-0. Lucic hammered a bouncing puck in to make it 3-0, and it was only ten minutes in the game. I’m yelling from my seat for a timeout, hoping somehow Lavvy will hear me. Of course, smart guy he is, he listened to me. What I saw next pissed me off to no end, as I saw groups of people start leaving and walking out of their seats. I yelled, yelled, and yelled. Nothing upsets me more than being down and having fans lose faith and quit on their team. They never quit this whole season, and there’s no reason why we should quit on them now. It so happened that the Flyers started to push back after letting their emotions subside a bit, and I’m glad those unfaithful “fans” walked out; because the bad energy left. Knowing desperately that we needed a goal before the period ended, an unlikely hero in James VanRiemsdyk found the puck after a strong shift and threw it on net. Good things happen when you do that, and he got rewarded with a fortunate bounce off of a Bruins stick to change direction on Rask… 3-1 bad guys but the good guys are still in it.
The Wach was alive once again as a 3-1 game is a WHOLE lot different than a 3-0 game. I was getting texts from friends saying “time to start power drinking” and “Well this sucks” before we scored. Never give up on these Flyers, because they came out in that 2nd period and did the improbable. Being down 3-0 in a series is hard enough, but being down 3-0 in a decisive game 7, in a hostile building no less? Scott Hartnell answered the call with a great shift by his line. Ville Leino and Hartnell were everywhere last night fighting for pucks as Hartnell made it 3-2. Then the most unpopular contract in hockey, Danny Briere, silenced his critics yet again with a lucky bounce after a wrap-around attempt. It went into the third period 3-3, and I started thinking how we got here:
A fitting ending of Game 4 for a returning veteran who had been called washed up. Then he comes up big again in Game 5 with two big goals in a 4-1 lead to take the series back to Philly. I know it’s a team game, but god damn having a consistent winger on a top line paid dividends. What did he to to finish the ultimate comeback? What happened next is the kind of stuff legends are made of:
Am I making too big of a deal out of this? Probably not. He may be my favorite player but it is plays like that, goals like that, results like that… that’s the kind of guy you want on your team. Some more notes from the game/series:
5 goals in the series? A couple game-tying ones? Danny has stepped up in a huge way and I hope he continues to bring it on as he plays the team he turned down to come to Philly.
Say what you will about Hartnell, I know I have all season. Those last 4 games of those series were some of the best I’ve seen out of him since last season. His gritty play and determination lifted this team up as he helped out the skill guys on his line. I was even happy with the play in his own zone as he got some key clears and got the puck up ice in transition. I look forward to him getting in Halak’s face, something he hasn’t seen too much of this playoffs.
What a pick up this year. He only played when guys were out of the line-up with injury, and now he had 2 assists in Game 7 and played like a man possessed on a few shifts. He kept the offensive pressure going all night, and I’d love to see him turn up the intensity even higher next round.
This guy borrowed Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak for the second half of the season, and that’s fine with me. I thought he worked pretty hard all playoffs and had the right idea by taking so many shots (leads the team this post-season). He was finally rewarded last night and you could see his confidence grow throughout the game. This is the kind of goal that can change the landscape of his play for the remainder of the season, let’s hope he gets a few more.
His toughness showed when we went down in Game 5. His skill has showed all season and all post-season, yet it wasn’t the goals or points I was most happy with this series. He’s a great two-way player and did some amazing things this season that will go unnoticed. His stick lift on Recchi in Game 4 in overtime saved Boosh from letting an easy tap in go by him, and that led immediately to the transition to Gags’ goal. The Wachovia Center appreciated him last night as he ate at least 30 seconds by himself in the final minutes by occupying the puck in the Boston zone, frustrating the hell out of Chara. That in itself is worth some kudos.
I’ll have more on the Habs series tomorrow with a season preview… We have home-ice as the 7th seed, and I like our chances to make the Finals this year. When I woke up this morning the sun was a little brighter and the air just smelled better. Amazing what a big win can do…