PHILADELPHIA -- As I sit here and write these words right now, I'm the only person left in the upper deck of the Wachovia Center. Shocked Flyers fans have peeled themselves out of their seats, and Blackhawks fans have found their way to the lower level, where they're cheering within a few feet of their heroes.
There's a "Let's Go Hawks!" chant. An impromptu rendition of "Chelsea Dagger." John Madden is skating around with his kids. Orange is all but gone, save a few curious onlookers. We might as well be in Chicago right now.
The juxtaposition between where I sit in the upper level and the ice is staggering. Up here, there are crews beginning to clean up the building for the final time after a hockey game until September. Down there, it's history, but it's not the type of history that we hoped for, of course.
It's not coming back from elimination five times on the way to the Cup. It's not barely squeaking in to the postseason after a roller-coaster regular season before a storybook playoff run ending in the Cup. Nope, instead it's the culmination of the resurgence of a storied Original Six franchise. It's the end of a cursed player. It's the weight of a different city lifted.
It's not our history tonight. It's their history, and it's taking place on our ice. That brutal fact is going to hurt for a very, very long time. But when you think about it, that in and of itself is absolutely incredible. In a strange way, we should be proud that this is all unfolding on our ice tonight. It's hard to see it right now, but it's symbolic of what the Flyers were able to accomplish this season. The fact that they're even here at all.
We don't need to go over the list -- we all know it by heart at this point. This Flyers team will go down as probably the third best Flyers team ever, simply because of the amazing run they took us on this spring.
There will be plenty of time to look ahead to next season, or even to review the bizarre nature of Chicago's overtime winner tonight, but right now, it's time to take a step back and remember the ride that the 2009-2010 Philadelphia Flyers took us on. From the expectations of the preseason to the doldrums of November to the hope and excitement of the playoffs and everything in between, this team showed us a lot this season.
We have a banner to raise in October and a championship to defend. It might not be the one we want, but it's still one we can be damn well proud of. After the jump, questions with answers and the comment of the night.
Questions with Answers
- Can the top line start to bury their chances when it matters most? Unfortunately, no. Jeff Carter had several chances and couldn't finish, especially in the third period on what would have been the game-winning goal.
- Will Michael Leighton rebound after being pulled from Game 5? Leighton had a very strong game tonight, as he did for most of the playoffs. It's a damned shame that nobody will likely remember it.
Antti Niemi wasn't great in Game 5, despite the win. Can the Flyers exploit him some more? Niemi wasn't great tonight, but his defense was. They blocked shots, clogged passing lanes, and did everything they needed to do to win the game.
- Does Chris Pronger dominate after a bad outing on Sunday? Pronger was his usual self, and the two penalties against him in the first period were kind of questionable from my angle. (Eds. note: The first one was not questionable at all.)
- The Flyers were strong in the second and third periods of Game 5. Does that carry over? The first was shaky, as it has been all playoffs. The Flyers were very off and on tonight, but they turned it on when it mattered. They had more chances in OT, too. Chicago just got a bounce.
- Another weak start for the orange and black? You could say that, yep.
- Is the Stanley Cup awarded in Philadelphia tonight? Sadly, it was.
Comment of the Night
Fifty years from now, what the Flyers did this post-season will be still be marveled at. That can never be, and never will be, taken away from us. The 2010 Chicago Blackhawks will be on a lengthy list of Stanley Cup Champions. But for as long as professional sports are a big part of American culture and society, the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers will never be forgotten, and will eternally be remembered for what they have done over the last several weeks. For as long as I live, I will never forget what I have seen over the past two months.
>> Ben Feldman