Finally, a game that went according to the script. We played an over-matched club, and handled business the way it was meant to be. An easy 4-1 win, thanks to a pair from Briere, along with tallies from Pronger and Leino. Boucher played well, making a few tough saves to preserve the lead.
Finally, the powerplay got things going for us. Ville fired a wrister that snuck in through the 5-hole right after we won the draw. About a minute later, Prongs slapper from the point makes it’s way in. And just like that, we’ve got a cushion, we’re free to control the pace, and Toronto is behind the 8-ball, having very little wiggle room. Briere showed off his quick hands when a Meszaros shot missed the net wide, and ricocheted off the boards behind the cage. Danny grabbed the puck, pulled it in front, and flicked it into the empty before Giguere could get across. Briere doubled up his scoring column off a beautiful counter rush, when he caught a pass and quickly backhanded the puck under Giggy as he was moving across. Coach Laviolette said after the game that he was happy with our play throughout pretty much the entire game, save for a few minutes here and there. I’d have to agree with that completely. We were solid from start to finish, easily overmatching a piss poor excuse for a hockey club.
There’s always going to be good teams and bad teams. But how much more fun would it be if there were less bad teams. How much more fun would it be for the fans if every game was a show. Leafs fans booed and left early last night, something they’ve gotten accustomed to over the last few years. And yet, the Air Canada Center is one of the hottest tickets in the NHL. People there love the team, and the team hasn’t been good since the lockout. The last two times they went to the playoffs, we knocked them out. Flyers fans will never, ever forget the last time we met in the postseason. That was the series that ended with Kapenen getting crushed by Darcy Tucker, followed by Jeremy Roenick jumping over the boards, grabbing the puck, and scoring the Game 6, series clinching, OT winner.
Since then, the Leafs haven’t made the playoffs, and have gotten progressively worse. Here are their point totals each season since then, in order: 90, 91, 83, 81, and 74. The point I’m trying to make is that the NHL needs contraction. We’ve expanded into markets that just don’t need hockey. Look at Phoenix. They made the playoffs out of nowhere last year, are winning again this year, and their average attendance is barely over 10,000. Look at Rick Nash wasting away in Columbus. How many goals did Kovalchuk get in Atlanta without being marketed as one of the faces of the NHL? The Predators have been one of the best teams over the past few seasons, and nobody EVER talks about them. Some teams just should not exist, so we can put better players in better markets. The talent will be less diluted, games will be more competitive, and real hockey fans will benefit.
Just from the perspective of a Flyers fan, here’s a list of teams that we really care about seeing: Washington, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Detroit, NY Rangers, Boston, Chicago, and Montreal. That’s it; 8 teams out of 29. A few years ago, it mattered when we play Toronto, Anaheim, Calgary, Ottawa, Carolina, New Jersey, and Colorado. But when some of these teams mattered, the current cream of the crop was mostly crap. Wouldn’t it be that much more fun if everyone was good at the same time, every single year? Would it be harder? Sure, but who cares. If we’re paying to see professionals play, then let’s keep it to the best of the best only.
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Tags: Anaheim Ducks Andrej Meszaros Atlanta Thrashers Boston Bruins Brian Boucher Calgary Flames Carolina Hurricanes Chicago Blackhawks Chris Pronger Colorado Avalanche Columbus Blue Jackets Contraction Danny Briere Darcy Tucker Detroit Red Wings Expansion Ilya Kovalchuk Jeremy Roenick Montreal Canadiens Nashville Predators New Jersey Devils New York Rangers Ottawa Senators Philadelphia Flyers Phoenix Coyotes Pittsburgh Penguins Rick Nash Sami Kapanen San Jose Sharks Toronto Maple Leafs Ville Leino Washington Capitals