And so it ends. The Philadelphia Flyers lose to the New Jersey Devils in five games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, making it 37 years and counting without a Stanley Cup on Broad Street.
The Flyers got so thoroughly outworked, outplayed, and outcoached in this series that it was almost numbing. The Devils, a team no one saw as a real contender in this series or this season, played letter-perfect hockey for the last 11 periods of this series to absolutely obliterate the Flyers and ultimately win the series in five games. The Devils flat out embarrassed this team, and in so doing reignited a rivalry that had been pretty dead for the last decade.
After a spectacular first round series against the Penguins, the Flyers had a week to marinate in their own success juice and entered the second round soggy with hubris. After eking out a fast-paced Game 1 (the only G, The Flyers didn't get many bounces, sure, but they came nowhere near deserving to win this series, or even most any of the games in it. The four straight losses in Games 2, 3, 4 and 5 made up the Flyers first four-game losing streak of the season. Bad timing, to say the least.
Bullets will take the pain away.
- My God, that second Devils goal that Ilya Bryzgalov caused is going to live in infamy for a long, long time. And deservedly so. However, blaming this series/season on him in any way would be extremely lazy. Bryz all but stole Game 2 and adjusted better than any of his teammates from the non-hockey pace of the first round to what this series entailed. His future here could and should still be humaangous bright.
- Everyone will find someone to scapegoat for this series, and truthfully there aren't many wrong answers. No one was great, and most were varying degrees of bad. There was a lack of offense, and a lack of defense, and a lack of leadership. Everything was bad, very little was good. If you don't like ambiguous endings, you should be pretty content with how this wrapped up.
- How the Flyers managed to make scoring first a horrible thing in these playoffs needs to be given a lot of attention in the off-season. How does a team play a type of hockey in 11 games that makes the team that scores first go 1-10? Utterly ridiculous.
- Marty Brodeur is going to get a lot of praise over the next few days/weeks for playing for a team that has made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but his goaltending really wasn't all that great in any point of this series. His stickhandling, however, made a huge impact, and the Flyers coaches failed miserably at working around that strength. Indeed it was the failure of this coaching staff to make any adjustments or successful motivations (from the second intermission of Game 2 on) that led to this series being so lopsided. I am calling for no one's job (except maybe whoever the strength coach is, because the Flyers got outmuscled like damn), but they've got to do better.
- Eastern Conference Finals won't include the Flyers, but it's hard to be too mad at a team that is the only one to make the second round each of the last three seasons. This organization has done so many things right during this 37-year title drought (more on that next week) that it's hard to fathom how they keep, you know, not winning.
- Handshakes after losing a series should never be a high point of the night, but seeing Claude Giroux come out in that blue suit to join the line made me smile. Good on him.
5 down...not enough. It's not happening.
Broad Street Hockey ain't going anywhere folks. Stick around all off-season for all the off-season stuff. Who knows, maybe we'll get a whole new team again!
But seriously, this will be the last game in orange for a lot of guys, doubtlessly. Each will be missed in his own way.