And down the stretch they come...
Right now if you were to look at it in horse racing terms, the Flyers have the slimmest of margins, ahead by a nose. After suffering one of the most brutal losses I can remember, the Flyers stand just 1 point ahead of the red hot Washington Capitals. Granted, the boys in orange have two games in hand, but they aren't exactly instilling confidence in the Philly faithful. Their play of late has been sporadic at best. That all culminated in the "disaster" that was Saturday night.
Fan appreciation night. In my humble opinion, not just another regular season game. It's a chance to show your fans how bad you want to win for them. Show them how much they mean to you. Well if that debacle Saturday night is any indication of how they feel about the fans, we certainly don't rank very high on their list.
November 21, 1987. Ring a bell anyone? It is a date that is now synonymous March 12th, 2011. It was the last time the Flyers blew a 3 goal lead. Names like Tocchet, Zezel, and Craven were still on the roster.
The game had an exhibtion type feel to start. After a long feeling out process the game began to take shape. With 5:49 left in the first period the Flyers struck first. Ville Leino would pop one past Pavelec to make it 1-0. "Villedelphia" was alive.
The second period featured two more Flyers goals. Another by Leino, and a short handed tally from Kimmo Timonen. Kimmo struck first after a nice setup by captain Mike Richards. Richards faked a shot and then slid the disc to a waiting Timonen. He beat Pavelec to make it 2-0. Minutes later Leino potted his second of the contest. Ville tapped a rebound past Pavelec to bring the score to 3-0.
The third stanza began with an over zealous excitement. "How many can we pile on them?" , I heard an exuberant fan say. I had a bit more anxiety coarsing through my veins. The Flyers had been heavily out shot in the contest so far. A rarity so far this season. That game trend would continue into the third, and they started going in for Atlanta.
Just over a minute into the third Evander Kane beat Bobrovsky to make it 3-1. There goes the shuout. Bogosian would net another at 12:15 to bring the air out of the Wells Fargo center. No worries, Ville Leino is on the scene. With 6:28 left in the third he cashed in for the "hatty". Cue the hats! And a shoe? Yes a shoe (not mine).
There is no way a first place team with President's trophy ambitions would blow a two-goal lead with under 7 minutes, is there? Samsonite? Oh I was way off....
After a Kris Versteeg penalty Tobias Enstrom beat Bobrovsky to narrow the margin to 1. Unfortunately for Kris this was the beginning of his nightmare, and ours. With less than a minute to play Andrew Ladd took a perfect pass and beat Sergei to tie the score. That perfect pass, to the chagrin of the fans, was from none other than Kris Versteeg. He can't technically get an assist for the other team, but I think he deserves one.
Overtime. Somewhere none of us thought we would be. Well at least it didn't last long. Just over a minute in Ron Hainsey would tip one past Bobrovsky, completing the comeback. A crushed and surly crowd certainly let their displeasure be known.
You take your lumps and you move on. This was a more difficult pill to swallow than most. Squandering games in hand isn't exactly the recipe for success. But you put this one in the rear view mirror and move on to Tuesday night.
Stop the presses. The hits just keep on coming. Chris Pronger out 3-4 weeks with a hairline fracture. Calling Nick Boynton, come in Nick Boynton. We need a solid performance from number 24 to make Chris' absence less glaring. The Flyers also announced they called up Erik Gustafsson to be an insurance policy.
Tuesday night the Flyers look to move on from Saturday as they square off with the Florida Panthers in their fourth and final season meeting. Florida, 28-32-9 65 pts, is playing for pride at this point. The Flyers are 2-1 against the cats this season.
The teams last meeting was February 16th. The Flyers carried a 3 goal lead only to see it nearly disappear against a scrappy bunch.
This won't be easy the Panthers are playing well recently and have won two of their last three. They have also gathered points in four of their last five.
As we all know, a loose and free of pressure team can be the most dangerous of opponents. The Flyers will need to bring their "A" game to south Florida. After the shellacking the Flyers confidence took Saturday night they need a solid and decisive effort.
I'm through making predictions with this team. They make me look worse than Charlie Sheen at a baby powder factory. Charlie, that's not....nevermind. With that said, if the Flyers don't bring a solid effort tomorrow night the panic button, that everyone's finger is squarely on, may just be pressed.
LET'S GO FLYERS!!!!!!