Thursday, May 13, 2010

Why I'm paying attention to the Flyers-Bruins NHL playoff series

I'm not exactly a big hockey fan (although I did sign up for National Hate Sidney Crosby Day on Facebook, just because!) But I am rooting for the Philadelphia Flyers this week in the NHL playoffs.

You may be wondering why would I care about an NHL team - especially a Philly franchise. Well, it's because the Flyers are up against the Boston Bruins. And because Boston was up 3 games to 0 in the series, before Philadelphia won the next three games in a row. Sound familiar? Now the two teams will face off in Game 7 in Boston this Friday.

While nothing will ever truly make up for 2004, it would warm my heart a little - make that a lot - if Boston fans were on the losing end in such a matchup. Especially when Daniel Briere, one of the Flyers, is saying "why not us?" about the team's chances. You may remember a certain pitcher by the name of Curt Schilling who used that expression as well about Boston's ALCS hopes. Boston fans must love that expression being used on the other side.

Imagine the humiliation Boston fans will feel if they lose Game 7. How delicious would that be?

Oh, and remember, Yankee fans, how Red Sox fans mocked our fanbase for throwing garbage on the field during Game 6, after the Slap Play was overruled? Well, at least no Yankee fans threw condoms at Red Sox fans! That's what happened to - and Philly fan - blogger rally towels and beer cups on the ice. It happened on several occasions, including during the final two scrums of the third period and DURING PLAY." He notes, "I'm sure this would have been all over TV if the game was in Philadelphia." Stay classy, Boston!

There's another connection here with this Bruins-Flyers to the Yankees-Red Sox - Kate Smith (who, by the way, has just been honored with a new postage stamp featuring her.) The Flyers were the first sports team to promote Kate's version of  "God Bless America" - the song that gets played every Yankee home game (although the Yankee version sounds like it was recorded on a Victrola!)  They even have a statue in tribute of her singing. A recent Philadelphia Daily News poll rated the Flyers' "God Bless America" as Philadelphia's best sports tradition - yes, it beat out booing!

And look what Philadelphia played during last night's game, according to Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe:
Back in Philly, just before they dropped the puck, the big board at the Wachovia Center featured grainy footage of the late, great Kate Smith singing “God Bless America.’’ The tradition started in the late 1960s as an answer to Vietnam War protests. Kate turned out to be a good-luck charm for the Flyers. Old-time Bruins fans might remember Phil Esposito shaking hands with Kate before the Bruins lost Game 6 in the ’74 Finals.
Smith also sang at the Spectrum in 1975 when the Flyers played the Islanders — the very same New York team that came back to beat the Penguins after trailing, 3-0.
See, it's all connected! Go Flyers! God Bless America!

What do you think? Tell us about it!


Keith said...

In theory, I definitely agree that it would be great that Boston would suffer though losing a series when up 3-0. However, as a Rangers fan, there's no way I can root for the Flyers (although I wanted them to beat the Devils). Plus, Boston probably wouldn't care about this series if the Celtics end up beating the Cavs tonight. The C's would need to blow this series as well to make it worthwhile. Anyway we can just have the Flyers and Bruins tie and give the Canadiens a bye into the Stanley Cup Finals?

bijan said...

If the Flyers can come back from being down 3-0, then that would be sweet, because the Red Sox beat the Yankees in 2004. Then the fans in Beantown can get a (bitter) taste of how it feels.

How about the Canadians! They were the 16th rated team, when the playoffs began. Now they have beaten the number one team (Washington), then the defending Stanley Cup Champions (Pittsburgh). Both in seven games!! WOW. Like the NCAA College Basketball playoff's , things like this can happen

Paul said...

Lisa, I can totally appreciate while this is a chop-licking opportunity. I think it will be embarrasing and disappointing but I don't see it bringing folks to the ledge a la Boone circa 2003.

This would not be the first time in hockey history. Actually it has happened 2 of the 5 times the situation has presented itself in the NHL

The intensity of the matchup isn't the same - the bitter recent memory of "game 7 last year" isn't present the way it was for Sox fans then

Hockey is bigger in Boston than in many NHL markets, but even with a couple years of decent Bs teams, it still doesn't hold the same weight as MLB (at least in the current era)

Keith, I think you're right about the connection between the Cs tonight and the Boston fans outlook on tomorrow's game 7. As for the next round - I'll be rooting for whichever team wins game 7. It was nice to see PIT go down, but I'm all done rooting for the Habs.

As a Boston fan I'm hoping for the best, but I can only complain so much when the biggest debate at the local bar is which playoff game gets the volume on the TVs.

Cheers everyone!
~Paul from Boston

Uncle Mike said...

I don't have the same antipathy for the Bruins that I have for the other New England teams. The Roid Sox, the Cheatriots, I still haven't figured out how the Celtics cheated their way to a 17th title (much less their first 16), Boston College (from their days as a Big East opponent of Rutgers), the University of Connecticut (both Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma make it worse for Yanks/RU fans by also being Red Sox fans).

But I have been to 2 Bruins games, both against the Devils. The second one, in late 2006 at the new Boston Garden (whatever the official name is now), passed without much incident, and the Devils won.

The first, in March 1995 in the last season of the old Garden, was a mess. First Claude Lemieux hit Cam Neely, recently back from injury. Then Neely pummeled Claudie as he "turtled." Then the ref tossed Neely. The crowd was furious, and started throwing all kinds of things at anybody wearing the Scarlet & Black -- including me. Mariusz Czerkawski scored a hat trick, Adam Oates had a goal and FIVE assists, and the Bruins won 7-2. Awful night.

Red Sox fans claim we threw batteries at Jim Rice at Yankee Stadium in 1978? Well, one of them threw a pocketknife at Chris Chambliss at Fenway in 1974 -- and that was before Chambliss had done anything for us! (Must've been one of those Southie bigots who didn't want Chambliss' kids in his all-white neighbahood school.)

And that display during Game 4 of the '99 ALCS? "Athens of America," my foot. Even Tony Massarotti, then with the Herald, called them "Fenway animals."

Boston is a wonderful city and a great sports town. Unfortunately, all too often, they go too far. They could take a page from Bruin legends Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, who showed their class (or maybe were just trying to cancel out the good-luck charm) by giving Kate Smith that bouquet in '74. (Check out the tape: Both Orr and Espo skated over.)

Subway Squawkers said...

Keith, you're much nicer than Jon was when he read I was rooting for Philly!

Bijan, I don't follow much hockey, but it seems like the seeds don't matter at all there!

And Paul, that reminds me that I am (reluctantly) rooting for the Cavs against the Celtics. Reluctantly because I think LeBron needs a rude awakening. Way too much 'tude for my taste.


"Nutball Gazette" said...

I am with you Lisa. I was a fan of the Islanders starting in Jan 1975 when I went to my First Hockey Game, So I remember when they fell down 3-0 to the Penguins and won 4 straight then lost 3 to Philly and then forced a Game 7 but Kate Smith was too much to overcome as she sang God Bless america live at the Spectrum.

BTW now that I live in Florida I root for the Lightning. No Isles, Devils or Strangers.

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