Monday, February 18, 2013

Something To Believe In?

Maybe we won't look back to Presidents' Day as the turning point in the Flyers' 2013 season. Maybe it'll be seen as just another in a series of "ups" in an up-and-down season. Maybe it'll be nothing more than a historical footnote of dubious honor for the New York Islanders.

But maybe not. Maybe today's 7-0 drubbing of the Isles--the worst home loss in their once-glorious franchise history--will be viewed as a fire kindled from sparks that flew this past Saturday night in the visitors' locker room in Montreal.

After another mind-numbingly flat performance that saw Flyers road record fall to 2-8, the fraught emotions finally boiled over, bubbling to the surface, with the captain, Claude Giroux, leading the charge, against the entire team, including himself. "It's unacceptable the way we played tonight," Giroux said. "It's not just one or two or three guys. It's the whole team...We're just going through the motions." It was nothing we hadn't read in the papers or said ourselves. But it means something different coming from the players. And it means so much more coming from the captain.

The Flyers could blame injuries, most notably to G's linemate Scotty Hartnell, and Andrej Meszaros on D. They could lament the loss of Jaromir Jagr, the catalyst for Hartsy and G's breakthrough seasons last year, to free agency.

But none of that explains why seemingly everything has been upside-down from 2012. None of that helps solve the mystery of how the biggest question mark entering the season--Ilya Bryzgalov--became the only consistent answer.

And besides, in the immortal words of my good friend Sweet Brown, "Ain't nobody got time for that."

Today was the 17th game of a 48-game season. Math wasn't a problem for me until geometry, trigonometry, and everything spatial, so I can tell you with a fair degree of confidence that we've entered into the middle third of this lockout-shortened season. And needless to say, this third is starting out a tad better than the first.

The blowout victory was exactly what the team, the organization, the fans, and the doctor ordered. As a fan, you want to know that the frustration, the disappointment, yes, the anger you feel is shared by the ones causing it, the ones who are supposed to care more than you. It's briefly satisfying to hear guys calling each other out when they deserve it, to learn of things like players-only meetings. But then there's the "now what?" And today was the answer.

Giroux scored two goals, his first one just 26 seconds into the game, and assisted on Matt Read's tally 15 seconds into the 2nd period. Cause that's what a captain does. Danny Briere also had two goals and an assist. Cause that's what a veteran leader does. And Bryzgalov? Well, the hardest working man in Philadelphia finally got the shutout he deserves.

With Hartnell and Meszaros hopefully returning soon, maybe our boys are getting back on track. And maybe this holiday will be one worth celebrating again in retrospect.