The Philadelphia Flyers are trying to find any hope to cling to against the New Jersey Devils as elimination nears. Yet the air has been taken out of Flyers fans like myself, as we are reduced to hoping that the Devils won't advance in Philadelphia after Game 5 on May 8. But hopes for erasing the rest of New Jersey's 3-1 lead are pretty stagnant - so much so that we have to draw inspiration from one of our own past playoff collapses.
A 3-1 lead has been lost in this rivalry before, although the Flyers were the ones to lose it. Back in the 2000 Eastern Conference finals, Philadelphia had as much of a stranglehold over New Jersey as the Devils have on it 12 years later. But the 2000 Flyers suddenly lost that advantage and were eliminated in the blink of an eye, and now the 2012 team has no choice but to try and return the favor.
12 years ago, the Devils and Martin Brodeur were at the peak of their power, while the current version is a bit older and seemingly more vulnerable. Yet New Jersey has looked more and more like the champions of old, while Philadelphia has looked even worse in its current three-game losing streak than its predecessors from 2000 did.
The Devils were more equipped to come back over a decade ago because they had an experienced core of Stanley Cup champions, led by Brodeur and Scott Stevens. But these modern day Flyers are extremely young, are not Stanley Cup champions and have never faced this kind of adversity before. What's more, Claude Giroux - who helped lead the Flyers' 3-0 second round comeback over the Boston Bruins in 2010 - won't even get to lead them in Game 5 after being suspended.
Philadelphia is technically in a better position to rally back than New Jersey was, however. In 2000, the Devils had to win Game 5 and Game 7 on the road without home ice advantage. But this year, the Flyers have the home ice and will host a potential Game 7. If they actually win twice in a row by then and steal the momentum away from New Jersey, a decisive game at the Wells Fargo Center would be quite interesting.
To get that far, the Flyers have to win Game 5 at the Wells Fargo Center and then win at the Prudential Center just to get back home. But the Pittsburgh Penguins won Game 5 over Philadelphia at home in the first round and had a chance to force a Game 7 at home, yet collapsed in Game 6 on the road first. However, the example of the 2000 Devils, of all teams, is the one that the Flyers have to emulate this week instead.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
Other stories from this contributor
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- New Jersey Devils
- New Jersey
- Martin Brodeur