86,400 ticks of the clock before I can breathe again...
86,400 muttered curses as the clock marched mercilessly on...86,400 hopes against hope that a squibber, a deflection off a shin, a seeing eye five holer might turn the tide. Eighty six thousand, four hundred seconds until possible redemption.
24 hours. An eternity for a frustrated Flyers fan.
Not until the puck drops in our Nation's Capitol tomorrow night can I think about much else than squandered opportunities, cruelly bouncing pucks and leads that evaporate like the morning mist among cherry trees on the National Mall. Eighty six thousand, four hundred seconds until the tipping point.
It was there for the taking. Up 1-0 at the end of one. Up 2-0 less than two minutes into the 2nd. The seemingly dormant powerplay had struck twice, the Flyers were finishing their checks and winning the battles and Biron was sharp. Then something strange happened. The Capitals, who were supposed to be the special teams experts but weaker at even strength, then beat the Flyers at their own game and proceeded to score THREE 5-on-5 goals from three different players - Backstrom, Semin and some guy named Ovechkin. The Caps flat out decided they were going to win the game and the Flyers did little to make them think otherwise.
Ebb and Flow. Until Backstrom's goal, the Flyers were...well, Flying. Then the lead was cut to one and the entire Flyers bench began to squeeze their sticks a little tighter. Meanwhile, the Caps gained a huge lift and started making their own luck. They outhit, outhustled and outworked the dark jerseys until you might have thought there was an avalanche of white out there. Yep...a whiteout except for one sweater with the number 8 on it. Kudos to Alexander Ovechkin - a true warrior.
Ovechkin showed why he is one, if not THE, premier player in the game today. The Richard Trophy winner can beat you in so many ways, only one of which is on the scoresheet. Tonight was no exception. He singlehandedly took the Caps and put them on his back. He led with his shoulder, as he has all series long, and the rest of the team followed. Number 8 ended up with two goals, only his second and third. Some might say his performance has been subpar and others might say the Flyers have stifled the supremely gifted youngster from Moscow - neither is wholly true. Yes, he has not lit the lamp, until tonight, with any regularity; however, anyone asking the Flyers if they felt the hits AO put on them would answer in the affirmative.
The Flyers need to wallow in this misery a little. They need to remember how it feels to be up three games to one and be forced into playing a game seven. They had their boots on the neck of their opponent and could not seal the deal. They need to remember what it feels like to be a desperate hockey club again - they were for little more than a period tonight. They need to look long and hard in the mirrors tonight and ask themselves if they want it badly enough. Only one team will walk out of the Verizon Center tomorrow night...who's it going to be?
Eighty six thousand, four hundred seconds. A freakin eternity.
Thanks for reading...