Orange & Black Breakdown
From seemingly the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, the Flyers have seen it all since the regular season concluded. And if we have learned anything from this entertaining postseason ballad full of fresh sounding narratives it would be this: what a difference a week makes.
Now facing elimination and doing so without the overwhelming postseason points leader, the Flyers will have to channel the devil from within if they wish to stay alive in a series and playoff run that has turned hellish in a mere 197 minutes of hockey.
What a difference a week makes.
A guy who has quickly grown on me as one of my favorite Flyers since the beginning of the year is Jakub Voracek. My man crush has gotten to be unreasonable at times for some of my friends. I am a little sour that Homer was proactive in his signings of Coburn (which looks like an absolute steal at 4 years for 18 million) and van Riemsdyk (which looks risky outside of his playoff performance from yesteryear), while forgetting about Voracek, leaving him to prove his worth all year after receiving a one year contract this past offseason. I understand loyalty and prior knowledge (Voracek was labelled as lackadaisical when with Columbus) is a huge driver in those dealings; but after the jump, I will get into the fact why I have such a huge fixation for the guy and why Homer is kicking himself for not jumping on the bandwagon sooner…
The big news surfacing out of Philadelphia this morning reverberated through the hockey-sphere quicker than a piece of glass can hit the floor of a New York Knicks visiting locker room: Ilya Kovalchuk will miss Game 2 due to a lower body injury sustained in the first round.
This vicarious bit of news surely bodes well for a Flyers team already riding high with a 1-0 lead that came despite their best all-around effort, but it should not change their approach. They would be wise to learn from the misfortunes of the Rangers who are now facing a home ice disadvantage after letting Game 2 be decided in favor of the visiting Capitals. This game is a must-win if the Flyers wish to stay in control of the series.
You might almost be inclined to call the Flyers lucky.
The only way to overcome their defensive shortcomings versus the Penguins last round was to put on a supreme display of offensive and special teams work. The Flyers rose to the challenge in record breaking fashion, dominating Pittsburgh with a lethal power play and slick penalty killing, a tenacious offense hell bent on disrupting Marc Andre Fleury, and an overall attitude that made it clear the second round would be their only option. They took an always disciplined Pittsburgh completely off their game en route to a convincing 4-2 series victory. Furthermore, a Game 7 upset by the Capitals over the Bruins assured the Flyers of a Rangers-free Cup run until at least the Eastern Conference Finals. The Flyers would either have home ice advantage versus a division foe or a matchup versus the Panthers upon the completion of their Game 7.
Five Periods of hockey later, the matchup with the Devils was set – and I couldn’t be happier about it.
The Flyers have the luxury of spending the next few days watching (scouting) their next possible opponents battle it out. Call it torturous all you want to not have a set opponent, but this is way better than preparing for a Game 7 tonight in Pittsburgh. Looking back on the series, this series is easily in my ‘Top 3’ for 1st round series as far as entertainment/joy is concerned (and it didn’t even go 7 games). After the jump, it is chocked full of goodies as I round out my top 3 favorites as well as give you a breakdown of the 2nd round possible match-ups:
First thing I think of when last night’s Flyers game comes to mind is “what if”. They played great for 2 thirds of the game, but their second period was atrocious. There are two prevalent reasons that come to mind when explaining last nights 2nd period meltdown:
1) Flyers let their foot off the gas pedal
2) Penguins took their level of play to a new level
But I’m going to hit on my 2 KEY reason for the Flyers loss last night after the jump
Through the first three games of the series, the Flyers played like a team possessed. Up and down the lineup, the players all seemed to maintain the perfect underdog demeanor. They played like a team confident in their ability to come out on top when they executed, and even more confident in their ability overcome and deficit that might lie before them. But up 3-0 in the series, that demeanor changed.
The Flyers went from being confident underdogs to the team that didn’t look confident with a lead. At the worst possible time, it would seem the Flyers are starting to succumb to the intimidation that comes with being matched up against the cup favorites, and it has reflected in their play.
Game 6 has become a must win, and the Flyers will need everything they’ve got to win. At the very least, they have history on their side.
This one took a while.
As the madness that was Game 4 unfolded, I found myself in complete awe of what was happening - and not in a furious manner. I was so genuinely blown away by what I was witnessing that I had completely scrapped my desire in the outcome and instead started focusing on trying to figure out what could possibly come next (spoiler alert – it was always a goal).
Here was a Flyers team fresh off two back-to-back 8-goal performances and on the verge of sweeping the seemingly listless Penguins, but getting completely shelled in all aspects of the game. Here was a team that had matched the Penguins power-play tallies up to this point with shorty’s of their own on an endless parade to the box that would ultimately lead to 4 power play goals for the opposition.
Simply put, here was a team that didn’t look like it was on the verge of advancing in the NHL Playoffs.
But hockey doesn’t rely on the aggregate total of goals or just one game to decide the superior team, and the position the Flyers were in on Wednesday has not changed. With just one more win, the Flyers can advance and send Pittsburgh packing. It’s time to treat Game 4 like one of its many pucks and forget about it, because it’s already behind them. They need to believe, because they stand on the verge of the ultimate vindication.
Regardless of how many wins and losses you may (or may not) have in a series and how much help you receive from the hockey gods along the way, it’s the decisive fourth win that is always the toughest to come by. Even when factoring in the Penguins rag-tag roster decimated by injury and pugilism, tonight should prove to be no different. The Flyers need their best effort of the series if they want to be rewarded for their hard work with time off.
Just a week ago, this scenario didn’t seem feasible in even the wildest of dreams. Tonight, this sweep dream can become a reality.
Just when you thought the Pittsburgh Penguins couldn’t look any more defeated, the final blow was sent in true American fashion.
“Watcha gonna do when Flyers Mania runs wild on you!?!?” bellowed Hulk Hogan to a raucous crowd of over 20,000, as a helpless Sidney Crosby could only muster a fully-deflated upwards glance at the perfectly timed message ringing through the arena in crystal-clear HD with just a few minutes left in Game 3.
Much like any shirt the Hulkster has ever worn, the Penguins have managed to destroy a complete body of hard work, blood, and sweat in an instant, needing only nine periods and change to bust the seams and tear apart the fabric of a season that has become synonymous with the term ‘cup favorites’.
Even if you were saying your prayers and eating your vitamins, Flyers fans couldn’t ask for a better start to the postseason. But now what?
(PS – Hulk video after the jump)
About Orange & Black Breakdown
The Orange & Black Breakdown looks to be the ultimate, around the clock source for news and information on the Philadelphia Flyers organization and it’s ever-present quest for the Stanley Cup. Focusing on what the team can do to achieve success is the ultimate goal.
The OBB is written and maintained by myself - Marc Siciliano. I’m a college graduate and media production professional in the sports industry with credits on projects like Hard Knocks: Bengals and 24/7 Penguins vs. Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic. A man of many hobbies, I always seem to find a way to spend a disproportionate amount of my daily routine with two things: Flyers hockey and social media (much to the dismay of my hockey impartial friends on twitter).
So what does this mean for you? The plan is to combine these
time-wasting habits passions with my love for writing to provide you with complete coverage of the Flyers from both my head and around the web, 24/7.
This is my second writing stint focusing on the Flyers, but for a much larger audience - so do be gentle. Different perspectives and opinions on the organization are welcome and encouraged. Just because I see it one way doesn’t mean I’m beyond seeing it your way as well, so speak up!
I’m always interested in interacting with readers, so find me on twitter (@marcs797) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let’s talk hockey.
Thanks for reading; Lets go Flyers!