The Philadelphia Flyers have had the events of this summer and the last rubbed in their faces during the Stanley Cup Finals. Flyers fans like myself are not only seeing the New Jersey Devils in the finals just two rounds after they eliminated Philadelphia this summer, but are seeing Mike Richards and Jeff Carter lead the Los Angeles Kings to the finals after being traded away last summer.
Naturally, Richards, Carter and the Kings have already had better luck against the Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals than the current Flyers did. Philadelphia couldn't win more than once over New Jersey in the second round, whereas Los Angeles is already up by 2-0. And of course with the Flyers luck, Carter was the one to give the Kings their second straight 2-1 overtime win in Game 2 on June 2.
Carter seems to specialize in Game 2's lately, since he had a hat trick to give the Kings a 2-0 series lead over the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Finals. But both Los Angeles and New Jersey have excelled in Game 2's, as the Kings have taken a 2-0 lead in each series and the Devils have rallied from a 0-1 deficit in their last two series.
For a while in regulation, it looked like the Devils would draw even with the Kings just like they did with the Flyers and New York Rangers. Yet after falling behind by 1-0 early on once again, New Jersey took until early in the third period to finally solve Jonathan Quick. Otherwise, Quick stymied the Devils with 29 saves in regulation and was the biggest reason there was a second straight overtime.
However, it was the Kings who put the pressure on in overtime, as Martin Brodeur had to wake up and make some big saves. In fact, Richards had a chance to be the former Flyer who broke the Devils' backs, yet Brodeur turned him down. He wasn't so lucky against Carter, however.
Carter was even further away from the Stanley Cup Finals a few months ago than the Kings were, since he was stuck with the last place Columbus Blue Jackets and going through an injury-riddled season. But the fact that he is two wins away from a Stanley Cup is just as surprising with him as it is for Los Angeles. It is probably even more shocking to the Flyers, however.
Trading Richards and Carter to make room for Ilya Bryzgalov was supposed to get the Flyers closer to the championship. Instead, not only did Philadelphia get throttled by New Jersey, it now has to watch as Los Angeles and its ex-Flyers handle the Devils much easier - and with a Cup on the line. Now if that wasn't enough, the Kings now owe their second and biggest win of these finals to Carter himself.
With Los Angeles up 2-0 and now 10-0 on the road in the playoffs, it may be just a matter of time until its first Stanley Cup is secured. Richards and Carter barely fell short of winning their first Cup in 2010 with the Flyers, as they were stuck at being two wins away. But as usual, it seems that all it takes to be a champion in hockey - and be a hero on the biggest stage - is to get out of Philadelphia.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
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