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Do or Die for the Flyers in Game Six of Stanley Cup Finals


They have their backs against the wall. Again.

This seems all too familiar. Hearts racing, blood pumping, the season on the line. Chris Pronger and the Flyers will HAVE to win the next two games if they are to take home the 2010 Stanley Cup.I think most fans of the Philadelphia Flyers know the drill by now. A season of hope and promise, pain and suffering, inconsistency and disappointment, and the playoff roller-coaster ride of a lifetime is about to come to an end. It is finally time to count this team out, once and for all. Only this time is because time is running out on the NHL season, not the Flyers.

After 82 regular season games and 22 grueling playoff games, the Flyers will need to force game 106 to have a crack at capturing Lord Stanley’s Cup. They will have to fight through another elimination game to have their shot at a Miracle on Madison on Friday night in Chicago. So, I beg the question: Why should we expect otherwise from this resilient, gutty, gritty mixture of men?

Sure, it would be easy to look at Sunday night’s first period drubbing as the first sign of domination in this series. It would be simple to expect that the Flyers tanks have been emptied and the momentum shifts toward an enemy celebration at the Wachovia Center on Wednesday night. It seems all too likely that the pressure of the moment will soften the home ice advantage that has proved so crucial for the entire series.

It seems likely for most teams under most circumstances. But not for this team. Peter Laviolette  has channeled his inner Fred Shero and keeps his men scrapping and fighting, believing in sacrifice and team. Laviolette’s team has fought through broken feet and broken faces. They have lost their starting goalie to injury and they have lost their backup goalies a total of three times. Somehow, this team keeps going.

This team is just different. That has been my mantra throughout the last six weeks and I am sticking to it.

Most teams with a horrid history of losing shootouts do not win them when it really counts. Most teams do not do so with their backup to the backup goalie. Most teams, save for two, do not win in the NHL playoffs after trailing a series three games to none. Only one had done it since the end of World War II. Exactly none had won when trailing by three goals in the deciding game.

Most teams do not tie a crucial Stanley Cup final game less than twenty seconds after the visiting team’s superstar scores on a breakaway, deflating the home crowd and killing momentum. Nor do they follow up such an act by scoring in the last half minute of a period less than a minute after their lead had been cut to one- in the next game.

This Flyers team has done all this. Sure, they have also lost their fair share of games. They have looked outmatched, outclassed and outhustled at times. And, yes, they have yet to win a road game in this series. But now they have no margin for error. It is put up or shut up.

I fear this team not winning these last two games. Any Flyers fan likely does. But fear is no way to live with a team that performs best under intense pressure and through illogical adversity.

Sometimes victory makes no sense. Frankly, I think this Flyers team has the Blackhawks right where they want them. It is do or die time.

This team is just different.


Contact Ryan Downs at rdowns@philly2philly.com