Series tied 3-3.
Tonight the Flyers had to win, and pleasantly enough, they played in a way that all but guaranteed that they would. After a dodgy first period that they escaped with a lead, the Flyers poured it on hot thick and steamy in the second to make the "if necessary" just "necessary," ultimately beating the Rangers 5-2 to force a seventh game in a series that has alternated like that part of a car called an alternator that does something but I'm not really quite sure what.
- Flyertastically, tonight it was Wayne's World, and the rest of us were just living in it. After scoring just one goal in the first five games, Simmonds opened the scoring with some bossing in the crease that gave the Flyers a comforting lead going into the first intermission, and doubled that lead with a second goal in the third period. When he scored his third to put the Flyers up 4-0, the game was all but over, and the orange stands rained down with hats of assorted colors. It was quite a sight to behold. Getting to enjoy an elimination game is a rare treat, so hopefully you enjoyed it. "Let's fucking go" indeed, Wayne.
- I defended Hal Gill and his insertion into the lineup in Game 5 mostly because I have respect for his attention to detail, but I quickly remembered how much I adore Erik Gustafsson today. The man had huge shoulders to fill when he donned that #26 jersey, but the man I call Swevret (= Swedish Syvret) has played smart, quick, opportunistic hockey in his eight career playoff games, and raced out of the penalty box to score the dagger goal that put the Flyers up 3-0. He looked really really happy and I was really really happy, too.
- Not a bad feeling either? Watching Steve Mason play awesome hockey. He had a couple shaky moments in Game 5, but has otherwise been completely phenomenal in this postseason. If he had played the whole series, the Flyers would have won it in 6 (or even 5), no doubt in my mind. Also, Brayden Schenn (aka "BSchenn" = "Bitchin'" OR "Luke, I Am Your Brother") had his best game of the series. Sean Couturier was a mess, but everybody else was able to carry him through it.
- In a word, tonight's effort from Henrik Lundqvist was...ugly. The Flyers unmasked his ugliness literally, because he spent the third period with his helmet off on the bench. Lundqvist let in 4 goals on 23 shots, was pulled before the third period, and has lost his last 12 games when his team has a lead in a series, which is an all-time NHL record (four ahead of Miikka Kiprusoff's 8). Ugly, ugly stuff. And yes, I take full credit for these developments. Ugly.
- Shameless Patrick Roy-wannabe Alain Vigneault pulled the goalie (Lundqvist's replacement Cam Talbot) with over four minutes left, allowing Claude Giroux to score one of the earliest empty net goals you'll ever see. The Rangers sandwiched that Giroux tally with two meaningless late goals of their own, which at least got some testiness brewing in the late stages. Despite the history of these rivalries, neither of these teams are currently nasty and the series hasn't come close to a boiling point. Things got significantly hotter tonight, and hopefully the Simmer will continue into Game 7 (SEE WHAT I DID THERE???).
- How 'bout them Flyers though, seriously? They are now 10-5 in elimination games dating back to the 2008 playoffs, and this was by far their best game of the series. The Rangers played their best game on Game 1; the Flyers played their best in Game 6. I know which I would prefer going into a Game 7 that is less than 24 hours away.
- This, though, was the fifth straight game in which the team with fewer shots on goal has won. Hockey isn't supposed to work that way, and it's part of what has made this series unsettling. Every night feels like a coinflip. It hasn't necessarily been the most compelling series, but it's been as competitive and even as you could hope for. Game 7, more than likely, is another coinflip. I'm thinking we should pick tails, but I'm open to arguments for heads as well.
- How amazing is that Frog Protection commercial? It's a huge upgrade from the Awesome Sauce Girls, at the very least. Didn't see any Random Red Couch, either. I think we might be winning this war, you guys.
- Emrick calling a hockey game is a true treat. I'm pretty stunned that it took until Game 6 for Doc to make it to this high-profile (albeit not high-caliber) series, but I was very happy to have him. McGuire, on the other hand, has practically called every single game that has been broadcast in this round. Don't think he's taken a single day off. They'll be on the mics tomorrow night, as well, which is something else to look forward to.
- My suggestion for the next 24 hours is to freak the fuck out. Not sure what else can be done, so you might as well go full throttle with it. It could be the last day of Flyers hockey all year, or it could be a beautiful springboard to hockey valhalla (aka the second round against the Penguins).
Game 7 starts at 7 pm on Wednesday night. Go Flyers, for fuck's sake.