The Philadelphia Flyers are a talking point in the Stanley Cup Finals although they are nowhere to be found on the ice. Flyers fans like myself are being taunted by how the New Jersey Devils are in the Cup finals, while the Los Angeles Kings have been dubbed "Flyers West" because Mike Richards and Jeff Carter helped lead the eighth-seed to a 12-2 postseason record.
It became 13-2 after the Kings found yet another way to win on the road and jump out ahead over a favorite. The Devils could barely shoot the puck for the first half of Game 1 on May 30 and were still in position to win, yet the Kings still emerged with a 2-1 victory in overtime and another 1-0 series lead.
Richards and Carter didn't make any big plays, but even Jonathan Quick didn't need to do much for Los Angeles this time around. The defense kept Quick from facing many shots to speak of, except during a few flurries late in the second period and early in the third. Yet the only puck that went past Quick was deflected off a Kings' defensemen, while the Devils missed a handful of open nets all by themselves.
The win was right in the Devils' hands and they could not seize it, which gave the Kings a chance to take it themselves. They couldn't get it in regulation thanks to some big late saves by Martin Brodeur, yet Anze Kopitar finally fooled him in overtime on a winning breakaway.
Although this was a new way for the Kings to steal a Game 1 road victory, it still happened for the fourth and final time in this postseason. Now if they can steal a Game 2 road win for the fourth and final time in this postseason, even the Devils may have a hard time rallying back. The Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes never recovered from losing their home ice advantage so decisively to the Kings, and now the Devils are halfway towards the same problem.
New Jersey didn't face the best of Los Angeles and still lost Game 1 anyway. So what can it do if the Kings get back to form in Game 2 and Quick does get to lead them through? Was this the Devils' one opening to put the Kings behind the eight-ball for the first time in these playoffs?
The Flyers certainly know that the Devils can recover from a heartbreaking opening loss and steamroll through the rest of a series. Yet while the Kings are now "Flyers West" they have developed more of a killer instinct than "Flyers East" often has over the years. That alone may make New Jersey live to regret this loss even more down the line.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
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