Flyers: History can be made with one more step

Flyers captain Mike Richards walks through the tunnel before Game 6 in Philadelphia. Photo/Getty

60 minutes.

That’s all that remains for the Philadelphia Flyers to make sports history. Tomorrow night will be game 7 from Boston where the Flyers attempt to make the impossible become a realization. Or, the Flyers will be the next team sent home packing for the summer.

Pretty tough scene, eh?

With last night’s 2-1 win at the Wachovia Center, the Flyers head back to Boston where they will be playing for a dream. That dream, the comeback of being down 0-3 carries so much added pressure due to the ‘statistics’ that show how hard this feat truly is to complete.

The Flyers are one win away from becoming just the fourth sports franchise to ever comeback from being down 3-0 to win the series. Do you believe in miracles?

Well, if you don’t at least you can believe in the impossible, right?

It really is impossible to see where this team is sitting right now. They are only a game away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals after barely qualifying for the playoffs. The Flyers had to beat the New York Rangers in a shootout in the final game of the regular season just to make the postseason. Now, their here as one the last remaining teams in the NHL fighting for the ultimate goal.

Another situation that was thought to be impossible was the ousting of both the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both the Capitals and Penguins were eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens. To say this is sort of like poetic justice would be an understatement.

No Penguins. No Capitals. What else can fall into place?

The sudden injury to Brian Boucher stifled the Flyers chances up until the returning Michael Leighton came in and proved why he was the guy that brought this team from the basement after Christmas. Leighton shut down the Bruins in game 5 coming in with a 1-0 cushion, then followed that up with a 30 save performance in Wednesday’s game 6 win.

According to Flyers captain Mike Richards, this team hasn’t accomplished anything quite yet.

“It’s nice, but we haven’t done anything yet,” Richards said. “We’ve fought all the way back to tie it, but we still need one more win. Obviously, it’s a Game 7 and it’s going to be tough. We have to be prepared for it.”

It is important for the Flyers to follow Richards’ words in that they have to believe in their minds they haven’t won anything yet. Statistics still show the odds are stacked against the Flyers. Like its been said over and over again, the comeback from 0-3 has happened only three times in sports history.

Richards hasn’t been the only guy putting impressive numbers on the board. Both Simon Gagne and Danny Briere have been pushing this offensive through, especially with clutch tallies. Briere’s power-play goal in game 6 ended up being the back-breaker for the Bruins. For Gagne, three goals in his first three games since returning to the team has lit a new fire under this teams skates.

Defensemen Chris Pronger averages more minutes than any player in the NHL playoffs and has been a brick wall in front of Leighton. Pronger, 35, has given the Flyers everything the organization had hoped for when they trading for him in last year’s Draft. He’s the rock on the blue line and all signs show that he’s getting better with every shift.  

For head coach Peter Laviolette, the resiliency his team has shown is what impresses him most of all.

“The players deserve a tremendous amount of credit because they won’t quit,” Laviolette said. “Every time they are pushed, they push back. They are a very resilient group out there and they just won’t quit, and it’s become a strength of ours. I think based on things that have happened throughout the year, down the stretch and through the first round, the adversity that we’ve faced, I feel like we are conditioned to it now.”

“This team has been through a lot, and every time we get thrown something we just take it in stride and we continue to push. They just seem to respond to any type of adverse circumstance, whether it’s the season, or schedule, or injury, or a goaltender. Our guys continue to push back. They won’t go away.”

Photo: Getty Images

That’s where I throw statistics out the window. I look at the present. The talent, determination, resiliency, and heart over match what the Bruins have offered.

The Flyers have to stay together and continue to do the same things that have made them successful in this current comeback. The power-play has to be better and the attack of Boston goalie Tuukka Rask must continue.

“We’re doing everything for each other,” Richards admitted. “We’re helping each other out, talking, and even when they had a lot of chances at our net, I thought we were defending well. When we needed the saves, (Michael) Leighton was there as well.

“Our confidence has been growing and we’ve built momentum. It’s not an easy task and to battle back this far … we have to be prepared Friday because that’s going to be the toughest.”

There is no tougher situation than game 7 with history on the line in someone else’s building.


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