0-3: The Flyers Face Off Against History

May 7, 2010

How quickly the fortunes of a hockey team can change.  For the Flyers, the thrill of easily getting past the New Jersey Devils in the first round has been replaced by the despair of being down three games to none in the second round.

Most people do not expect the Flyers to come back from this 3-0 deficit.  Teams have won a series after being down 3-0 only twice in NHL history, and it hasn’t happened since 1975.  Of course, just because something hasn’t happened before, doesn’t mean it won’t happen.  And you could make the point that since it’s been 35 years, it’s due to happen soon.

Regardless, the Flyers haven’t played as horribly as the 3-0 deficit would indicate.  Game one, they got off to a slow start, which was somewhat understandable since they had a nine day layoff between playoff rounds.  (Sometimes winning a series quickly can be detrimental)  They came back to tie the game, but after seemingly seizing momentum in the game, they were flat in overtime, and the Bruins overwhelmed them en route to victory.

In game two, the Flyers once again fell behind early only to come back and tie the game.  And once again, they couldn’t do anything with the momentum, losing on a goal late in the third period.  Most Flyers fans will wonder why defenseman Ryan Parent was on the ice late in the game, since it seems that every time he plays late in a close game, bad things happen.

In game three, they finally got off to a good start, taking their first lead of the series.  The lead was shortlived, as the Bruins scored the next four goals.  The Flyers seemed to be outplaying the Bruins, but in hockey (OK, in any sport) outscoring is more important than outplaying.

It feels like the many injuries suffered by the Flyers are taking their toll.  They’re down to their third string goalie (who has played surprisingly well), and are missing two of their best scorers.  While other players have picked up the slack a bit, the team’s lack of depth is showing a bit.

Then again, the Bruins have had some injury problems of their own, so the Flyers shouldn’t lean too heavily on that excuse. 

So do the Flyers have any hope?  Well, if their regular season is any indication, I’d have to say yes.  Considered by some to be Cup contenders before the season, the Flyers had a very uneven season.  They got off to a solid start, making the lofty predictions look accurate.  But by December, the team was in free fall, eventually leading to coach John Stevens to get fired.

Under new coach Peter Laviolette, the Flyers rebounded and were playing like one of the best teams in hockey when the season went on Olympic hiatus.  After the hiatus, the team failed to recapture that momentum, and went into another tailspin, nearly falling out of playoff contention.  Eventually, they had to defeat the Rangers in a season finale shootout just to make the playoffs.

So based on the way their season has gone up to this point, it wouldn’t be that shocking to see them rebound and win the next four games.  Considering how the playoffs as a whole have gone so far, there’s a definite “anything goes” feel to the proceedings.  After all, the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference have already been eliminated.

Olympic years are always a bit screwy.  Taking a two week break in the middle of a season can really disrupt a team’s energy.  Not to mention that the top teams are often weakened since they typically have several players on Olympic rosters.  Basically, those players have gone through an intense playoff-like tournament, and are then asked to do it again a couple of months later.

So while it’s improbable that the Flyers make a comeback (and I certainly wouldn’t put any money on it) don’t be too amazed if it does happen.


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