So, despite being dispatched in heartbreaking fashion on Saturday night, the Detroit Red Wings were able to force that game five against the San Jose Sharks in conversely dominating fashion. Still, in a weird way, it was the Philadelphia Flyers, in forcing their game five against the Boston Bruins, that were most impressive.
Now, instead of beating the Bruins 7-1 like the Wings did the Sharks a few nights ago, the Flyers were only able to live another day by the collective skin of their teeth, edging the Bruins 5-4 in overtime. Still, one can make the argument that their ability to retake the lead in that game, which they held three times, points to their determination to not go down without a fight.
Detroit, on the other hand, as good as they were, really only had to play well for the first 10 minutes of their game, after which victory was all but assured, with the Sharks content to coast through the rest of the game and get embarrassed, knowing they had three more tries to move on to the next round after the rout.
Let's call a spade a spade here, the Sharks are not as bad as the 7-1 score would indicate, and the Wings are not that good. It took mainly two things to happen for the 7-1 final score to result: the Wings to come out flying, and the Sharks to do what they've grown most accustomed to over the past decade. Clearly, it didn't take long for the Sharks to show their true colors in that game four, and we're not talking teal (well, maybe we are; what color do people turn when they're choking again?).
Meanwhile, for the Flyers to come out on top on Friday night, they had to overcome a whole lot of adversity: a horrific goal let in by goalie Brian Boucher, two blown leads, including one with less than one minute to play in the third period, and, of course, the overwhelming knowledge that if they were to somehow pull a victory out of their hats in overtime they would still have to win another two games to just pull even with their opponents.
Now, I'm not a psychology major, but I would have to think that the longer that game went on, the harder it should have been for the Flyers to willingly compete, knowing that a win under that set of circumstances would be for naught. Of course they're professionals and they're paid to play to win each and every night, but, and I would refer you to the Sharks loss just one night earlier, some nights professionals just don't show up. On top of that, they're also human, and, after having the game tied by Mark Recchi at four apiece with just 30 seconds left, every single human instinct would tell you that a win just isn't meant to be and that you should just pack it in. Instead, they didn't, and Simon Gagne, in his return from injury, played hero, just like Bruin Marc Savard did in game one, and helped the Flyers to force a game five.
Of course, the Flyers aren't going to move on to the Eastern Conference final. Probably, if asked, anyone who follows hockey would have said that if there was one team that was capable of coming back from three games down this year it was the Red Wings, and look how that turned out. The Flyers, for all their resiliency, are not the Red Wings. True, the Bruins are not the Sharks, but, then again, the Bruins did not go quite as quietly in game four either. Game five between the Flyers and Bruins is scheduled for Monday night at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.