But to their credit, the Philadelphia Flyers came out looking like a conference champion, treating their sarcastic "Ole"-chanting fans to their fifth straight victory, which prompted the following tweet by Down Goes Brown:
"Flyer fans doing the "Ole" chant. Expect Habs fans to respond by vomiting, getting tased, and falling into penalty boxes."
As much as I'm not prone to lauding the Flyers, it's been nice to not have to watch them play like the team that floundered to a seventh-place regular-season finish in the Eastern Conference (which this year was like dunking on a Fisher Price hoop - congrats on your special feat).
In trying to wrap my head around what this all meant, I wondered: did the Flyers just become the team-less hockey fan's last hope for a great Stanley Cup Final?
The way the conference finals were shaping up was bleak - Philadelphia and Montreal battle into the Eastern Conference finals by employing the "bend but don't break" strategy, that, while worthy of pride, leaves teams flimsy and spent. Then they were supposed to beat each other into piles of pulpy gauze and tape. By the time a winner's arm was raised out of this mess, the Western Conference champion was supposed to devour them like luke-warm oatmeal.
The Flyers lopsided victory, while only one game, hints at the potential for a whole new scenario: maybe the Flyers are going to beat the pants of the Canadiens and have time to rest and get fully healthy (while a warm breeze of Jeff Carter(notes) rumors gusts over the City of Brotherly Love). In the West final, the evenly matched San Jose Sharks and Chicago Blackhawks could potentially go six or seven games, leaving them so depleted that the finals are suddenly a scary proposition.
And here's the strangest thing - the Flyers were like the bizarro Coyotes this year. Contrary to everything you thought about their team, they eventually convinced you that they were the complete opposite of that. Before the season began, the sheer volume of quality names on Philly's roster were enough to make you think they could push for the Stanley Cup. But after laying enough eggs to stock Denny's this year, it was easy to give up on them. Maybe Peter Laviolette didn't.
So for Canadiens fans tonight, the dream took a bit of a turn towards a nightmare. But for those with no dog left in the fight, tonight was a good thing. And if none of that comes true, there's still some good to take from this Flyers performance: the praise of Hal Gill(notes) will stop for a night. And that's something we can all enjoy.