The Philadelphia Flyers won't be winning the Eastern Conference this season, and that harsh reality will come completely true tonight when one team wins Game 7 and ignores that trophy that Mike Richards had the balls to pick up one year ago.
Justin F. put up a great FanPost earlier today on the subject. Sure, the Flyers made the Cup Finals last year, but just about everybody will tell you that the 2004 team that lost in Game 7 to the Tampa Bay Lightning was the best chance the Flyers have had to win the Cup since the 80s. (We all know how 1997 turned out, after all.)
I've been waiting for this moment for seven years now. Only half of the equation may be there now, but I can still hope for the result I wanted then. I'll never get 2004 back, but Tampa can feel the pain of losing to a largely unlikeable team in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals. The pain of being one game short of the Stanley Cup Finals. The pain of knowing their team with a ton of Heart that never gave up was one game short of a sweet victory and a chance at a Stanley Cup.
That bitterness toward the Lightning still lingers deep within me as well. I hate the 2004 Lightning with the passion of a thousand Steve Downie's. But will a loss by the 2011 Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Finals be viewed as revenge?
For me, it won't. It's not the Flyers doing the beating, after all.
And besides: the Lightning of now are the complete and total opposite of the Lightning of then. Sure, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis are still there, but those are two guys who are pretty tough to hate. John Tortorella is gone, there's new ownership, a new general manager. It's practically a new organization.
Frankly, the 2011 Lightning are a pretty likable bunch too, and that's before mentioning Simon Gagne's name. And as for their fans? I don't have any feelings towards Lightning fans at all. They're like Florida Marlins fans to me. Does it bug me that they're clearly bandwagoners and, for the most part, the collective of them doesn't deserve another Stanley Cup?
Sure, that bugs me. But as a group, I hardly think about Lightning fans. I don't live near them, I don't deal with them. Out of sight, out of mind.
Boston fans, on the other hand, are perhaps the worst fans in America. Arrogant, spoiled rotten, omnipresent. Right up there with Yankees fans and Cowboys fans, in my book.
If the Bruins win the Eastern Conference, they're going to be even worse. If the Bruins do the unthinkable and win the Stanley Cup, every major Boston sports team will have won a championship in the last 10 years. Nobody should have to suffer through the pain of those accents and their celebration. Again.
It's painful just thinking about it. And besides, they beat us this year. If they lose this season before winning the Cup, we can still claim ultimate victory after the Greatest Comeback In The History Of Sport. If they win the Cup, it's moot.
Stanley Cup > epic 3-0 comeback > everything else. Kind of how it works.
I don't want the Lightning to win the Stanley Cup, but I sure as hell want them to beat the Bruins tonight. After that, the Canucks can mop the floor with them. Sounds like a plan.