Friday, May 14, 2010

The Seventh Game

Last night, I was remarking to my father that I have followed the big American team sports for almost forty years. I have watched an absolute ton of best-of-seven play-off series- won and lost some thrilling seventh games. But never this. Never have the Phillies, Sixers or Flyers been left for dead, down three to love- and rallied back to even force a ultimate game. The only I can think of that compares was the Phillies in the 1980 NLCS. That was down 2-1 in a best-of-five, looking at Nolan Ryan and repeated deficits late.... two days, not a week plus of must win.

It is sort of exciting to simply be a fan of it- reminded of why watching sports in compelling in the first place despite its non-importance. It is not important- but it is damn interesting- a truly unscripted story that never fails to throw a wrench in there somewhere.

So I am in fan mode tonight- no criticism from me today- just root, root, root for the home team. Truly, it is encouraging that game six was much like game five. Boston has seemingly forgotten how to score- no goals without an extra attacker in two games now, and only one overall. The Bruins have played a lot of the last three games down multiple goals.

You can’t blow a three game lead without a little “choke”- and Boston has many of the required elements: players forced into scoring roles due to injury, some key older guys (Savard, Satan, Recchi) looking increasingly worn down, a rookie goalie. Even Thorton and Chara are further into their 30s than you think.

The Bruins probably are not, right now, as good as the Flyers. But, of course, that wasn’t true a week ago, until the injury situation flipped. So facts like that can change on a dime. And Boston is at home. Faced with adversity, they may have laid down in Philadelphia- but they have a good crowd and building there. Unlike Pittsburgh, the Bruins will show up.

Nevertheless, the emergence of Leino and Briere (his best one week run in three disappointing years) have given the Flyers two lines to get markers- and I don’t know if the Bruins even have one group now. The Flyers top four defensemen, after a shaky start to this series, are back to being the best part of this Philadelphia outfit- throttling the Bruins like they did the Devils. Flyers win tonight. Tout est bien qui finit bien. Bring on les Habitants.