Going into yesterday's Stanley Cup Rematch, the Philadelphia Flyers had a lot to answer for from Saturday's loss against the New Jersey Devils.
"What the hell kind of crap hockey is this?" asks Flyers sportswriter Michael DeNicola, "I've seen better hockey played on sand!"
Well Michael was absolutely correct. The Fly Guys looked sluggish in Saturday's tilt and needed redeeming come a little less than 24-hours later.
When our boys hit the Chicago ice in the 1st period, the game's tempo leaned towards the Blackhawks favor. If it weren't for the quick legs and glove from Sergei Bobrovsky, the Flyers would surely be digging themselves out of a defecit too early for comfort.
"Bobrovsky was in complete control. Never too far out of position. Not deep. There were no second opportunities. He was quick with his legs," Peter Laviolette said as he addressed the press post game.
Bob stopped all eleven Chicago shots in the 1st including two from Patrick Kane and another from Jordan Henry's stick that really let the crowd know he came to play.
The Blackhawks may have had the Flyers defense on their heels in the 1st, but it was Jeff Carter's infamous wrist shot that powered past netminder, Corey Crawford, to light the game's first lamp and put the Bullies on top, 1 - 0.
From then on it was a back and forth battle between Bobrovsky and Crawford. Both squads played consistent, smart hockey and there were no instances from either team to lead anyone in believing one side's ready to dominate over the other despite what it said on the scoreboard.
As the game clock went into its 43rd minute, the puck had been dumped into Chicago's zone and sought after by the Zherdev-Carter-Giroux forward line. Hawks players, Troy Brouwer and Niklas Hjalmarsson, gave up a turnover to Nikolai Zherdev who then snuck a wrap around goal on Crawford and put the Flyers up 2 - 0.
Perhaps Brouwer got distracted by Niklas' stupid ass last name? You type that name into a Speak & Spell the thing will read back, "F*ck you" and the batteries would instantly perish.
Just minutes after Zherdev's wooden lasso, Jeff Carter decided to show off his baseball skills and bat Claude Giroux's centered puck out of midair and knuckled in the net while crashing on the crease. This put the Flyers up 3 - 0 quickly into the 3rd period.
Despite what was looking like a Philadelphia takeover, it was the penalty shot given to the league's worst journeyman, Marian Hossa, that had the Brotherly Love's bench scratching their heads.
During a pile up in Sergei's net, Braydon Coburn had covered the puck with his glove, concealing it from play. While it was on the replay, I didn't once see it like that. But what I see doesn't matter. Chicago was awared the penalty shot and they chose Hossa to go out there and do the damage. This was the Windy City's only goal of the match and robbed Bobrovsky of his first NHL career shut out.
Of course telling you that I was livid is an understatement. I mean, I'd much rather never have a shut out game this season as long as it means a successful Cup run. But it still tweaks at my soul that a team with 69 points and is #1 in the league standings has yet to blank an opponent on the scoreboard. I believe both Bobrovsky and Boucher deserve one this season.
But whatever, I'm rambling now.
With the score being 3 - 1, Chicago naturally pulled Crawford with a little over 1:30 to go. As the Hawks tried their best to position their snipers from the points, the puck escaped the zone, Hartnell took control and backhanded the game sealing open netter, 4 - 1 Final.
From there a quiet Chicago crowd exited the United Center with their heads held high because they knew they still had their precious BEARS to look forward to that afternoon.
We all know how THAT turned out for 'em.
So how do you as a Flyers fan feel? You think that was payback? Does it feel like payback? I mean, sure, it feels great to get another win and further our dominance in the conference by another 2-points but I wouldn't say I feel like vengeance had been taken care of.
I must admit, after Hossa potted that PS and the arena boomed with that Godawful Chelsea Dagger song....it opened old wounds. That song is pure hell and to hear it again in that penalty shot circumstance it boiled my blood just the same as it did back in June.
It reminded me of thousands of fairweather Chicago natives dancing around and celebrating a hockey team they found out existed three months prior to gaining tickets. It reminded me that the Midwestern city got a Stanley Cup Parade down THEIR streets when it should of taken a trip down Broad.
So no, I don't feel like a regular season win can cover all of that. It's like an apology from Jeffrey Dahmer to his victims' families.
This 'W' is just another section of road paved to getting back to what's rightfully ours. What's BEEN ours since the first Orange & Black seed was planted into the Broad Street earth in 1967.
And you know what? When we take on those dirty Habs from Montreal on Tuesday night at 7:00PM......I'm lookin' to pave another section of that road.