Photo credit: Amy Irvin (38Photography)
41 games played. 41 games left.
We are at the halfway mark here and despite the fact that the Philadelphia Flyers are nine points out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, I still believe. Call me a sucker. Call me a fool. Call me naïve. Call me whatever you want. I still believe this year’s Philadelphia Flyers team can contend for a playoff spot. Why? Because I want and choose to believe that they can make the playoffs and go on a run and win the Stanley Cup. I do that every year. I’ve been that way since I was a little kid and I’ll be that way until I’m a crotchety old man yelling about how kids don’t understand how the game should be played and how they have no respect and to get off my lawn.
This team isn’t perfect; far from it really. They’re slow. They don’t have enough depth nor enough talent up front to compete with teams like the Rangers on an every game basis. Their defense corps is lacking a top-tier defender and any semblance of cohesiveness. Their goaltending is good, but not elite. Their coach can’t make adjustments in game and is trying to run a defensive system with guys who can’t really play defense. They don’t have much. But here’s what this team does have: they’re from Philadelphia and they’re my team. I really couldn’t care less about how far down they are in the standings. Until they can’t make the playoffs, I want them to win every game.
I cheered for them in 2006-2007 when they were terrible after losing Keith Primeau to career-ending concussion issues, Peter Forsberg to foot problems and a subsequent trade to Nashville when they were no longer in the running, and a complete front office overhaul. I cheered for them in the early 90’s when they had the most dominant player in the league in Eric Lindros and couldn’t make the playoffs. I cheered for them when they surrounded the Legion of Doom with God knows what you would call the rest of those teams, except for Rod Brind’amour, Eric Desjardins, and Ron Hextall of course. And I cheered for them in 2004 when they were oh so close to taking on the Calgary Flames in the Stanley Cup Final, only to lose to the eventual Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning. I cheered for them in 2010 when they needed a shootout victory to get into the playoffs, had Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton as a netminding tandem, and were down 3-0 to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals only to come back, win and go on to battle the Chicago Blackhawks for the Stanley Cup.
I want Jake Voracek to continue his first half dominance and win the Art Ross Trophy. I want Claude Giroux to continue being the best player I’ve seen in my life in the Orange and Black and go on to win the Hart Trophy that he rightfully deserves as the Most Valuable Player to his team in the National Hockey League. I want Steve Mason to win the Conn Smythe in the playoffs, mostly because he’ll have to be stellar for the Flyers to have a shot, but also because his performance in the first round last year was something to behold. And more than anything, I want this team to win the Stanely Cup. I’ve been a Philadelphia Flyers fan every year of my life and I’ll want them to win the Stanley Cup every year, regardless of how unlikely it is.
It’s 2015. A new year. 41 games played. 41 games left. Let’s go Flyers.