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Momentum? Not in this Series

June 7, 2010

People in sports love to talk about momentum.  As in, when a team gets hot and starts doing well, they tend to continue to do well.  While there are many examples of this phenomenon throughout sports history, it certainly has not been the case in this year’s NHL Playoffs.

If momentum were a huge factor in the playoffs, then the Flyers wouldn’t have been able to come back from that 0-3 deficit against the Bruins. 

In the Finals, neither team has been able to do anything with any supposed momentum they might have.  In each game, it seems that as soon as one team scores a goal, the opponent quickly counters with one of their own. 

After winning the first two games in Chicago, the Blackhawks seemed to have a ton of momentum, and looked like they were on their way to a series sweep.  Then the games moved to Philadelphia where the Flyers were able to win the next two.  After game four in which the Flyers outplayed the Blackhawks, it looked like all of the series’ momentum had shifted to the Flyers.

That lasted right until the puck was dropped in game five in Chicago.  The Blackhawks dominated from the start of the game and earned a 7-4 victory that puts them one win away from the Stanley Cup.  It seems that while momentum may be nice to have on your side, it isn’t nearly as important as playing hard and having home ice advantage.

Does last night’s crushing defeat mean the Flyers are done for?  Definitely not.  Throughout the first five games of the series, the play in each game has had almost no correlation to the games played before and after.  We’ve seen a wide open, high scoring game one be followed by a tight, defensive game two.  The Flyers physical domination in game four was followed by a swarming Blackhawks attack in game five.

One thing that is certain is that the Flyers will have to win a game in Chicago in order to win the Cup.  Both teams have played much stronger on their home ice (and much weaker on the road) but the onus is on the Flyers to reverse that trend.  The Blackhawks can suffer a loss in game six and still have home ice in game seven to fall back on.

So here is where the Flyers stand: Game six is at home, and they need to win.  They’ve played very well at home (especially goalie Michael Leighton) so hopefully they can continue that strong play. 

And if they can win game six, then maybe momentum will be on their side, and that might be enough to carry them to victory.  But I wouldn’t count on it.

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