The Philadelphia Flyers will have several of their own engraved on the Stanley Cup soon. Unfortunately, Flyers fans like myself will have to see Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne get their names on the Stanley Cup as members of the Los Angeles Kings. That became even more inevitable in Game 3 of the Cup Finals on June 4 - with Richards and Carter naturally playing a role in finishing off the New Jersey Devils again.
The Flyers were used to seeing Richards and Carter combine to score goals for years. But their biggest combo of all came early in the third period of Game 3 for the Kings, as Carter took a pass from Richards, blasted it past Martin Brodeur and put the last nail in the coffin of a 4-0 win. For that matter, it was the last nail in the coffin of the Devils themselves.
By then, the Kings had all but wrapped up their latest 3-0 series lead anyway, as they were already up by 2-0. There was virtually no way that the Devils would tie it up with two goals on Jonathan Quick in the third - especially if they couldn't touch him in the first and second. They had their chances early on, especially in a five-on-three power play in the first, yet Quick stood tall as he always has in the playoffs.
Los Angeles would go on to kill five more New Jersey power plays, which gave it enough time to break through for two second period goals. But despite the Kings' brilliant penalty kill throughout the postseason, their own power play attack has been their one weakness thus far. However, even that worked for them in the third period, with Richards and Carter leading the way.
Carter's power play shot early in the third officially started the party in L.A., which further built up with another man-advantage goal a few minutes later. With that 4-0 win, the Kings are now a victory away from a 4-0 triumph in the Stanley Cup Finals - which would give Richards, Carter and even Gagne the championship they all couldn't get in Philadelphia.
It made sense that Richards and Carter combined for a clinching goal on the night that fellow ex-Flyer Gagne returned for the first time in months. Now they can all be on the ice together to hoist the Cup in Los Angeles after Game 4 on June 6 - like they should have hoisted it in Philadelphia.
In the last Stanley Cup Finals game that this trio played in together, they had to watch the Chicago Blackhawks win it all in Philadelphia after Game 6 in 2010. Richards, Carter, Gagne and the Flyers broke their fans hearts back then - and now two years later, they can give the Kings fans a party they've waited 45 years for.
Meanwhile, Flyers fans who've waited 37 years for their own party will have to live vicariously through the new champions again - only more ironically than usual.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
Other stories from this contributor
- Ice Hockey
- Sports & Recreation
- Mike Richards
- Los Angeles Kings
- Jeff Carter
- Stanley Cup Finals
- Simon Gagne
- New Jersey Devils