Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ahhh, it's playoff time!

The NHL playoffs. There is nothing like the drama starting about 3 weeks before the season ends and then into the first round. The nerves, despair, sadness, anger, thrills, heart palpitations, shallow breathing, the joy of victory and agony of defeat. You know what I mean, right? Oh, wait. If you're a Leaf fan, let me remind you of the last time you saw a playoff game with your team participating:

Yup, it's been a while!

Last season, my Philadelphia Flyers got into the playoffs on the last day of the season in a shoot out, something most true hockey fans hate. It's a gimmick and whether your team wins or loses, it stinks. This time last year it helped my team but it would have been a horrible way to lose.

After destroying the Devils in 5 in the first round, they played the Bruins and were down 0-3 very quickly. They won the next 3 games to bring it to game 7 and in the first period were down 0-3 just like that. Coach Peter Laviolette called the time out of all time outs and told them to just score one goal before the end of the period, and told goalie Michael Leighton not to give up any goals. James van Riemsdyk started the ball rolling by scoring. In the second, Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere each scored to make it 3 all. Then, yet another Bruins "too many men on the ice" penalty came back to bite them in the butt and Simon Gagne scored on the power play to make it 4-3 and give the Flyers the win with the comeback of all comebacks. No other team has come back from 0-3 in games and 0-3 to start game 7 and win a series, so for us Flyers fans it was just amazing. The highs and lows were incredible, from the bad score to the time out to Claude Giroux's amazing defensive shift:

On to the Montreal series which was a comparative walk in the park after all that drama but wasn't without highlights as well, courtesy of captain Mike Richards:

After that it was the Stanley Cup finals. The fans tried to do what they could by eating grilled cheese sandwiches before every game to bring good luck. We wore our lucky clothes and discarded them after losses. The quality of play wasn't there as many of the players on both teams were running on fumes, having been through the regular season, the Olympics, and hard played games up till the final. Goaltending was pretty bad for both teams and the game winner by Patrick Kane was weak, right through the 5 hole. I can't bear to put it on my blog but after a day or two of feeling bummed out, we all geared up for the next season and were so proud of what the team had done.

2010/2011 got off to a great start and the team was in first place in the eastern conference for several weeks before ending up in second. We had a new goalie, 22 year old Sergei Bobrovsky who was learning the NHL game and learning to speak English all at once. Brian Boucher is there just in case Bob falters. We reluctantly said goodbye to Simon Gagne who was traded to Tampa, and welcomed Andrej Meszaros, a solid defenceman who has played incredibly well this season. So defence and goaltending aren't a problem, but for some reason the power play and goal scoring in general have suffered.

I don't know how the playoffs will end. Will the power play figure itself out? Will Briere/Leino/Hartnell be as amazing as they were last year? Will Mike Richards go into beast mode? It could be great, or the season could be over by Friday night. That's the beauty of the playoffs, you have to be prepared and on top of your game all the time, and if you don't, the thrill of victory will become the agony of defeat before you know what happened.

This was put together after last season, so hopefully there will be something similar after this one:

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