The Philadelphia Flyers had nothing left when they got eliminated in a Game 5 at home to the New Jersey Devils in the second round. Yet Flyers fans like myself got reminded that the Devils are much more resilient, as they stayed alive in their Game 5 at home against the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals on June 9. But perhaps the finals will resemble the Flyers-Pittsburgh Penguins opening series instead - or at least that is what the Kings hope.
A 3-0 lead is no longer a sure thing in the Stanley Cup playoffs, as the 2010 Flyers proved. The 2012 Flyers were almost on the other end of that, as they were halfway towards blowing a 3-0 advantage over the Penguins in the first round. But Philadelphia brushed that aside and decisively took Pittsburgh out at home in Game 6 - and Los Angeles wants to do the same to New Jersey in its Game 6 on June 11.
Of course, if the Kings do this, they will finally win the Stanley Cup in their third opportunity. When the Flyers put away the Penguins at last, it didn't clinch the Cup - although most of us in Philadelphia thought it would be a stepping stone. Instead, the Devils broke our hearts over two weeks later, and we have been waiting to get avenged ever since.
It looked like the Kings and all their former Flyers would do the job and then some, after taking a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals. But like the current Flyers, the Kings have taken their foot off the gas - which is even more inexplicable.
Pittsburgh was overdue to explode over Philadelphia in an excessively wild first round series. Perhaps New Jersey was overdue to break though over Los Angeles as well, given its missed chances earlier in the finals. Yet the possibility of a Penguins comeback over the Flyers wasn't that shocking - whereas if the Devils can do it against a Kings team on the brink of a Stanley Cup, it would stun the world.
However, all the Penguins did was provide one last late burst before their inevitable downfall. It helped that Claude Giroux stepped up huge for the Flyers from the opening faceoff of Game 6, giving them the momentum they needed to move on for good. The Kings could certainly use a similar boost from one of their own stars, like Jonathan Quick or Dustin Brown - or even ex-Flyers Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne.
If that happens, then few will remember that Los Angeles took longer than it should have to put New Jersey down - just as few remember how Pittsburgh took longer to get eliminated by Philadelphia. It is certainly more forgettable now because the Flyers fell apart after eliminating the Penguins - whereas the Kings' great escape from the Devils would be far more memorable.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
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