(Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupul wins it in OT for the Oilers...oops! Sorry guys...how's Joni Pitkanen doing?)
Exorcising the ghost of Dale Hunter:
Dale Hunter has left the building. Wow...Joffrey Lupul wins it in OT
in the waning seconds of the only powerplay of the extra session thereby exorsizing the overtime loss to the Caps in game 7 in 1998. What a night.
By all accounts the Flyers should have lost in regulation, but hung around and kept Ovechkin (see "Man Possessed" ) off the board when it counted - but only barely. The Flyers could mount only sporadic offensive rushes but always of the one-on-four variety. The Caps, on the other hand, came out with guns blazing and always seemed to have two or three men on the puck to the lone Flyer. If not for the outstanding and superb goaltending effort put forth by Marty "I've got a playoff series win under my belt" Biron, the Flyers would never have made it to OT. He was spectacular and pulled the team's fat from the fire more than once...ok 20 times. He was square to the shooters, anticipated and saw the puck extremely well and let the puck come to him. Sounds easy, right? Just a walk in the park...
The refs had put away the whistles on everything and it took a mugging for them to pry one loose from a striped pocket. Once they did, the flyers had a shot. It seemed like it would be their only shot because there was going to be a makeup call somewhere. They did not waste the opportunity, like the 5-on-3 they had earlier in the game. The Orange and Black moved the puck well, got it back to the point and defensive Stud, Kimmo Timonen, let it fly.
Joffrey Lupul was in the right place, at the right time and potted a sweet backhander to ice the Capitals and thrust the Flyers into the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Montreal Canadians, who also escaped game 7 in a 5-0 blanking of the Bruins.
Can the Flyers derail the slick skating Habs? Who the heck knows. All I know is the Flyers have achieved the unthinkable at the end of last year's debacle - make the playoffs and winning a round. I would be a rich man if I had made some bets on that happening.
One thing I do know, the handshake is still the coolest post-game moment in all of sports. Period. To see AO shaking hands and wishing well to Marty Biron was just amazing.
More to come...as I look ahead to the matchup against Eric Engels' Les Glorieux.
But for now, I am just going to bask in the glow of a game 7 victory.
One final point that must not be missed. NONE
of this would have been remotely
possible without the daring, dramatic and brilliant moves made before and during the off-season by (IMHO the GM of the Year) Paul Holmgren, and President and COO of Comcast-Spectacor, Peter Luukko.
They understood the immense pride the Flyers and their fans have about their hockey team and went out to rectify a horrid previous year. They went out and made bold moves to acquire Upshall and Biron (in 2007), Hartnell, Timonen, Coburn, Briere, Lupul and Smith and continued to add to the puzzle with valueable parts like Vinny Prospal and Patrick Thoresen. They spent the money and made solid trades (ok outrageous trades- can you imagine how Atlanta let Coburn go for Zhitnik?????) and put together a team with veteran leadership mixed with young comers - Richards, Carter, Umberger, Coburn, etc...and made it all work.
Kudos to you two Gentlemen, you have earned it.
Thanks for reading...