Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Up the Ladder
"You need good timin'.
It takes good timin'.
--the Beach Boys
Just ten short days ago, the Philadelphia Flyers were, well, meh. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it is exactly as it sounds. Meh. Just say it out loud. You'll understand. The Inquirer's Sam Carchidi explained their slightly deceptive record, how going into last Tuesday's battle in Detroit, the Black and Orange had won just 15 of 37 games against the teams that held playoff positions. (Thanks, Matt.) There was definitely a Jekyll-Hyde thing going on, occasionally brilliant, sometimes awful, where it seemed the team didn't know what it was. Not to mention that the last time the Flyers won in Detroit was in 1988. No exaggeration. 1988. I was in third grade.
I checked the score on my walk home from work and almost ran into someone. We're up 2-0 in the second? Sweet. Thought it would be over by now.
For those who don't follow hockey too closely, you need to understand just how good the Red Wings are. You may recall the late 90's teams that used to win the Stanley Cup every year because they had money and spent it wisely. You may remember the 2002 squad with approximately 300 future Hall of Famers. This team might just be better, and probably for a lot longer. The salary cap has changed nothing, at least not in the Motor City, where the Wings continue to always be among the top two or three teams in the NHL.
And so, when the Flyers blew the 2-0 lead and end up falling 3-2 at Joe Louis Arena, the text argument with Matt began. Matt was angry because we squandered a terrific opportunity to knock off the mighty Red Wings on their own home ice. I wrote something to the effect of, "It's a bummer, but I'm kinda proud of them." Sure, there's no spot in the standings for "moral victories," but I, the Eternal Optimist, was hopeful. This could be the spark, I thought, the clarifying moment where this team becomes aware of its potential.
And Matt was right. I should've been more upset at blowing 2-0. But--at least for the meantime--I'm righter.
Though it's only been three games since the game in Detroit, this is starting to look like a different team. Other than the overall Captain Obvious statistic of the team's health, the most specific reason is the return of one Daniel Briere. I think it was Phil Sheridan of the Inquirer who wrote during baseball season how great it would be if Brett Myers was like the "mid-season acquisition" that wasn't really acquired. That's what I was hoping Danny B would be to this Flyers team.
Two goals in a crazy (and I do mean crazy) 6-4 win in Buffalo, an assist in the crucial 3-1 grinder in Pittsburgh, and a goal and an assist in the homecoming 4-2 triumph over the hated New Jersey Devils later, the return of Briere has added some needed kerosene to the Flyers' fire. The result? The Flyers have finally begun to inflate a small cushion in the race for the playoffs. Going into tonight's action, Philly was holding steady at fourth in the East, three points ahead of and three games in hand on Carolina. But more importantly, we're nine points ahead of the Panthers at ninth, putting us a good bit ahead of the cutoff. Especially having gone up the ladder by beating Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Jersey right in a row. Only three of the Flyers' final ten opponents currently hold playoff spots.
The East is wide open. And this Flyers team is coming together at just the right time.
As my father used to say, "Timing..............................................is everything."
"Did you hear who the Eagles picked up?" "Who?" "No One." "Really? What team did he play for?"
On St. Patrick's Day, Martin Brodeur broke Patrick Roy's all-time wins record at 552. Two days later, a New Jersey court ruled that he must pay his ex-wife alimony of a half-million dollars per year until 2020. Sometimes the justice system does get it right.
Speaking of Martins, why is it that the Lightning's Martin St. Louis goes English in the pronunciation of "Saint," yet French in that of "Louis," (loo-EE)? Dude, make up your mind.
There are so many terrible broadcasters on television and radio. I can't stand the Yankees announcer whose only home run line is, "See ya!" "See ya"?!? That's it? Then, to restore my faith in humanity, along comes Florida Panthers announcer, Randy Moller. Seriously, you have to see this. The other night, I heard him scream, "Do you know the muffin man?" (Thanks, Mac.)
And, just for good measure, Jimmy Rollins once again.