Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/07/13 at 02:19 PM ET
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
The Flyers arrived in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in a decade with the expectation, at least externally, that they would cruise through a Detroit Red Wings team that had been remade before the season and featured five Russian players playing prominent roles.
In fact, after being crushed 6-1 in Game 3 of the finals, head coach Terry Murray referenced the team being in a "choking situation," a term that has become part of the lexicon of playoff hockey.
Whether that was accurate or not, the Flyers lost Game 4 and were swept out of the finals, and shortly thereafter Murray was fired as head coach.
History suggests, however, that despite the presence of Eric Lindros, Rod Brind'Amour, 50-goal scorer John LeClair and goalie Ron Hextall, the Flyers weren't necessarily chokers but rather the victims of a Detroit team that was deceivingly good.
That Red Wings team -- with future Hall of Famers Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan, Slava Fetisov and an emerging Vladimir Konstantinov -- might have been underappreciated at the time, but it turned around and won the 1998 Cup by sweeping the Washington Capitals in the finals, as if to reinforce the Red Wings were the real deal no matter how much emphasis had been on what the Flyers did or did not do against them the previous year.
We were reminded of that 1997 series as we watched the Pittsburgh Penguins drop a gut-wrenching third straight game to the Boston Bruins on the road Wednesday night.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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