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PHILADELPHIA -- They never make it easy, do they? After taking the lead in the first period on a Danny Briere goal, Chicago would come back to tie the game in the second. They took another lead on a Scott Hartnell goal, and Chicago fought right back to the the score on a goal by Brent Sopel of all people.
Then, at the start of the third period, the Blackhawks would actually take a lead, putting the game seriously in doubt amidst Flyers faithful and absolutely silencing the once-deafening Wachovia Center crowd. True to form, however, as this entire series has gone, the home team fought back. Ville Leino tied the score just 20 seconds later on what would eventually send the game to overtime after yet another incredible third period by the Flyers.
Perhaps it was all meant to be. Claude Giroux was taking a nap earlier today when he got a call from an old friend. That friend told him that he'd score the game-winner in overtime tonight, believe it or not. Maybe it was just meant to unfold this way, because that's just kind of magical.
Then again, this entire Flyers season has been magical. We don't need to go through all of the reasons why; we know them by heart by now. Everybody in the Wachovia Center tonight knows them. This team, as frustrating as they've been all season long, has proven in this playoff run that they know how to win. They know how to fight.
It doesn't matter that they got virtually nothing out of their top line for a third straight night. It doesn't matter that the third defensive pairing completely regressed tonight. It doesn't matter that Brent freakin' Sopel scored a fluky goal in the closing moments of the second period. It didn't matter when Patrick Kane gave Chicago the lead, it didn't matter when they put and it doesn't matter that they had a goal disallowed in overtime (right call, by the way).
It clearly didn't matter that Claude Giroux had a rough few games leading up to tonight, either.
With the cards completely stacked against them as usual, the Flyers didn't panic. They were calm and collected, just like always, and as Danny Briere said after the game, "there was no doubt in my mind that we'd get it done tonight." Nothing matters to this team except fighting hard on their way toward history.
It's not a guarantee that they're going to win the Stanley Cup, of course, this team should never be counted out of anything ever again. Tonight's victory was just the latest evidence of that fact.
After the jump, a few loose ends ends from a wild day and night in South Philadelphia, as well as the usual fare: questions with answers and the comment of the night.
- Tonight's crowd of 20,297 is the largest crowd to watch hockey in Wachovia Center history and in Pennsylvania history, according to the Flyers. It surpasses the previous record, recorded during Game 1 between the Flyers and Red Wings on May 31, 1997. I thought that Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals in 2005 was the record, but I apparently was wrong. Also, it seems tough for this record to have been broken tonight given the amount of media seating that covered actual seats, but I imagine they really crammed in the standing room.
- How incredible was Ville Leino tonight? By far the best Flyer on the ice, Leino dipsy-doodled his way through the Blackhawks all night long, pacing his linemates, Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell, with his magnificent play. In the locker room after the game, Ian Laperriere shouted over to him "Detroit should've traded Datsyuk instead of you."
- Speaking of Laperriere, he took off the full shield tonight and wore a half visor.
- Tonight's win was their first in the Cup Final since 1987.
- As mentioned above, Jeff Carter had a rough game tonight. He was just very sloppy all over the ice, as were his linemates, Mike Richards and Simon Gagne. In fact, besides a short span on the power play in the second period, Richards was pretty invisible throughout the game.
- Chicago does a really strong job of clearing the porch in front of Antti Niemi. The Flyers weren't able to penetrate the slot at all tonight -- except on the winning goal, really -- and as a resuly
- Throughout the third period, which was dominated by the Flyers, the Wach was very, very quiet. Understandably, there was a ton of nervous energy in the air tonight. All was released when the Flyers scored in overtime -- until that one was called back. It turned to anger, then a bit more hope, and then euphoria as Giroux's goal found the net.
- Apparently Darroll Powe picked up the puck and handed it to Giroux. That's what people here have been saying, at least.
Questions to Answer
- Will the Flyers score the all important first goal and dictate the pace throughout? They scored the first goal and dictated the pace for most of the game, but scoring first against Chicago doesn't seem to matter.
- Can they harness the energy of the crowd properly? I thought so. The building was rocking pre-game and there was a lot of positive energy early on and especially before the game. Chicago had a good start but the Flyers used the crowd to propel them a bit, it seemed.
- Does the top line get on the board tonight? No.
- Will Oskars Bartulis have another sound game, giving the Flyers vital, effective minutes from the third pairing? He only played a handful of minutes. Not sure why, didn't seem like he did anything to warrant a benching from my view.
- For the love of God, can they shoot high on Antti Niemi? Seems like they were trying. Lot of high, rising shots that missed the net, though.
- Can the Wach crowd beat the United Center crowd in decibel level? Nope, but there are less people here and the acoustics could be different. That said, I've heard the building louder than it was tonight. I have a feeling it will be better come Friday night. More reason for optimism.
Comment(s) of the Night
It’s 4:15 a.m. here.
I’m staying up to celebrate!
Off to bed now with a smile on my face! 4.13am!
Awarded to a commenter who best displays perseverance and dedication to the FLYERS.
Some video and stuff later, maybe in the morning. About to get kicked out of the Wach by the cleaning crews, for now...