I’ll admit that I couldn’t push the skepticism aside. Yes the Flyers had won eight out of ten games, but look at the teams they played in that stretch: a bad Calgary team, a San Jose team that was freefalling faster than Tom Petty’s relevance, the Islanders twice, a mediocre Toronto club, the Panthers who don’t deserve to be a 3seed, a Capitals team that may just squeak into the 8th spot, a decimated Red Wings team. The only team that wasn’t mentioned above was the Devils and that is because there really isn’t anything negative to say about them. The fact that the sixth placed team in the East provided the Flyers with their toughest test put a lot into perspective for me.
I wasn’t completely sold after Bryzgalov went on his tear. You could see his play improving from game to game after that shootout victory in Calgary, but wasn’t this supposed to be what we saw all season? The club record for consecutive shutout minutes was very impressive, but this was the type of confidence that everyone expected to see all season.
Back on February fans were already saying that it’s too early to have the discussion about just how bad the Bryzgalov was, yet just because the phrase had to be said meant that there was some serious doubt in the city.
I don’t think that phrase will be muttered for the rest of this season after what took place this past weekend.
Saturday the Flyers had to play in Boston on St.Paddy’s day, which means that the drinking was amplified by 10, but rowdy road crowds only seem to fuel Philadelphia.
Even though the Bruins won in a shootout and Bryzgalov didn’t make a save in that SO, the overtime point was worthy of being looked at as a victory. Early on it appeared that this was going to be another dominant Bruins victory, but Philly used the second period as a springboard to get back into the game. A steaming hot Jakub Vorachek tied the game at 2 in the 3rd and in the process showed that Boston might not be the big bad wolf after all. Finally the intensity that Boston plays with seemingly every night was matched by a Flyers team that has struggled to do that ever since games 4,5,6,7 two seasons ago.
Then on Sunday afternoon Sidney Crosby and the Penguins made their way across Pennsylvania to the Wells Fargo Center for a 12:30 date on NBC. I’m glad the game was on national television, but I had enough of the Crosby iso cameras midway through the first period. Is it necessary to show a replay of Crosby’s reaction to everything besides the kiss cam? Anyways Bryzgalov played two solid periods, but the Flyers were still down 2-0.
After being destroyed physically, but not on the scoreboard in the 2nd period Philadelphia fought like a prizefighter and improbably tied the game at 2 with 10 minutes left in the 3rd. I say improbable because the Flyers had only won 3 games after trailing through 2 periods and the Penguins were riding an 11 game winning streak and had dominated the first two periods.
It was the type of gutsy performance that makes you want to believe that the Flyers belong amongst the title favorites but in order to do that they’ll have to beat the Rangers in the regular season and who knows maybe that game will have first place in the East riding on it.
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