The Philadelphia Flyers ended their season by getting knocked out in Game 5 of the second round at home against the New Jersey Devils. But now Flyers fans like myself can savor the irony of the Stanley Cup Finals, as the Devils must save their season in their own Game 5 at home against the Los Angeles Kings - a.k.a. "Flyers West" - on June 9. Yet can New Jersey save itself at home where Philadelphia could not?
By the time the Flyers came back to Philadelphia down 3-1, they had lost three straight games in sudden fashion and had all their will sucked out by the Devils. In contrast, New Jersey has a bit of hope despite being down 3-1 to Los Angeles, after staying alive with a Game 4 win on the road on June 6.
The Devils already spoiled the Kings' Stanley Cup coronation once before, so they have faith that it can happen again - and maybe two more times after that. Of course, the biggest argument against that is the Kings' 10-0 road record in the playoffs and their two overtime wins in New Jersey already. Instead of setting the stage for a massive comeback, all the Devils might have done is provide the perfect way for the Kings to finish this postseason off - away from L.A.
Still, if just a break or two had gone the Devils' way in Games 1 and 2, they could have been even at 1-1 or ahead by 2-0 to start the finals. But after their close-but-no-cigar losses, the Devils finally broke through in Game 4 with their backs against the wall. Now that New Jersey knows it is possible to close out Los Angeles and pull out late victories, maybe this will get the Devils going.
This could just be fools gold, however, as the Devils may be just as doomed going into Game 5 as the Flyers were in the same scenario two rounds ago. In addition, this is following the usual script for the Kings, as they recovered from Game 4 home losses against the Vancouver Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes to win overtime Game 5's and end those series on the road.
However, all it would take is one break and one victory to totally flip the script in the Stanley Cup Finals. If the Devils finally break the Kings' road invincibility and push Los Angeles into its first Game 6, then nothing will look inevitable anymore.
Although the Kings are one more road win away from completely ending everything and taking the Stanley Cup, the Devils are just one win at home away from coming completely back to life. It was obvious that the Flyers weren't coming back against the Devils even if they won Game 5 at home - yet there is room to believe that it could be another matter for New Jersey in these finals. It may be a very slim hope, but one victory would make it just a little bigger.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
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