What. A. Game.
What a rivalry!
You want to talk about an up and down match? Last night's contest against the Boston Bruins easily took a few months off my life.
Though Jody Shelley fired off the evening with an easy decision against Bruins toughguy, Shawn Thornton, it was Scott Hartnell's basebell bunt for the goal that really got things in full swing early in the 1st.
Throughout regulation, the lead changed five different times and in climactic a la mode.
Nothing stung worse than Mark Recchi's "God's Gift" goal 38-seconds into the 3rd period when a puck dumped into the Flyers zone took an odd bounce off the corner glass and wound up in front of a Philadelphia open net.
Boucher abondoned his crease to play the puck behind the net when the disk decided to break every law of physics. Mark Recchi was conveniently positioned deep in the slot and potted a lazy goal to tie the game, 3 - 3.
Now, going into the second intermission, the Flyers continued to prove to the league that the 2nd period is owned by Philadelphia and no one else. A returning from injury, Nikolay Zherdev, broke away with the puck late in the period and squeezed it through Tim Thomas' five-hole to tie it up, 2 - 2. But it was Jeff Carter's snap shot off the faceoff in Boston's zone that snuck by gloveside high on Thomas and gave the Flyers their second lead of the game going into the 3rd.
The number '3' might as well be wearing black & gold colors. Prior to last night, the Bruins were outscoring their opponents in the 3rd by +34.
But the Flyers sure as hell made 'em live up to that accomplishment.
In the last 20-minutes of the match, a combined 7-goals were scored between the two squads and the lead seesawed three times.
The energy and emotion that was displayed in the amount of time it takes a person to crap out a high protein and dairy dinner was mind blowing.
Aside from the fact that the scoreboard's goal totals went back and forth like two Chevy engine pistons, the game officials had a lot to do with the Bruins final score.
Now, please don't get this mixed up with any "Flyers vs Referees" conspiracies. The officiating in this league is a joke. As a whole, these zebras are less dependable than Snooki in a room full of boners and Captain Morgan. Every team's been screwed over somehow by a terrible call, so it's not all "THE LEAGUE HATES US [Flyers]" bullshit.
However, how the refs missed the puck hitting the safety netting prior to the Bruins marching down the ice and Brad Marchand potting a shelfer on Boucher is beyond me.
After the puck was deflected off of play in the Flyers zone, it took a vacation in the twine above the glass. Briere knew it. Leino knew it. Shit, Stevie Wonder hiding behind a steel curtain with his face buried in a braille book coulda seen that!
But somehow, someway, the linesman never noticed. Why? Not because they hate the Flyers. Not because the league's still gotta grudge against the '70s Broad Street Bullies. But because they're awful. All of them.
Unfortunately that game tier tilted the momentum towards the Bruins and kept it there.
Steven Kampfer bucketed the GWG past Boucher with 1:13 seconds left in the game after I got on my knees and prayed to God that we at least get an OT point from this match up. The cap came from Gregory Campbell's empty netter and sealed the game up, Boston 7 - Philly 5.
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All in all, it was one of the most exciting games of our season. Like Peter Laviolette said in a pre-game interview, these two teams bring out the best in eachother.
After the game, Briere noted "The rivalry is building up again. The last few years, the suspension, the Winter Classic, the comeback, those are all things that make it more of a rivalry and it's good."
He's right. It is good. It's good for the sport, it's good for the ratings and it's great for our fans. You can be pissed all you want about the loss, but the Flyers are 12-3-1 in their last 16-games and have a lot of momentum to ride on from tons of positives that occured last night.
What's even better is that they have the opportunity to begin another winning streak tonight against the Atlanta Thrashers, just 24-hours after skating with the Bruins.
Regardless of that 'L' in the loss column, I don't see how the confidence level in our locker room isn't sky high. I'm not going to allow last night's game to affect my expectations, so why would it influence our boys and theirs?
Did I mention this will be the first time since Game 6 in The Finals that our Bullies will be going up against the once Blackhawk forward, Dustin Byfuglien? Let's kick his ass around the ice tonight for a sweet, small taste of payback, eh!
And let's welcome Chris Pronger back in the orange & black since his surgery on his broken foot. I'm sure he's got something to prove against Big Buff.....
EDIT: Chris Pronger practiced for the first time TODAY in full gear which implies he will not skate in tonight's game against the Atlanta Thrashers. Click here to see his interview from earlier today.