They’re Coming: Playoffs

Less than a month away, April 11th. The playoffs are coming and there’s nothing we can do to stop them.

Would we even want to?

Playoff hockey is the best part. Even people I know who aren’t avid hockey people, but enjoy sports, will watch playoff hockey. It’s when urgency and desperation is at its height and some of the most amazing things can happen.

The celebration after Mike Richards’ goal against the Montreal Canadiens in the 5th game of the 3rd round in 2010 will forever stick in our minds. It was a moment of awesome greatness. We see players step up in ways that we never see during the regular season. Comebacks are more than exciting, they are ‘on the edge of your seat’ magic.

It’s also a time of immense heartbreak as last year’s playoffs attest. When a fan’s hopes and dreams dissipate into ‘well, there’s always next year.’ The 2010 playoffs were my first, and I’m not ashamed to say that the 6th game of the Finals made me cry. It’s an emotional rollercoaster.

So, what can we expect from the boys in Orange and Black this year?

I have no idea. In a lot of ways, this team has superseded first expectations by incredible offensive power. I, personally, will not completely get over trading Mike Richards and Jeff Carter (mostly Richards) and seeing them in colors that aren’t orange. However, the team has become something that thrills and makes me proud. There have been defensive issues both in team and in goalie, but lately, there’s been a cohesiveness that gives me hope that playoffs will be impressive.

With these new expectations and realization that the Flyers are pretty darn good this year comes the potential for great disappointment. Will Danny Briere step up in the playoffs like we expect him to? Will someone else get injured? Can the rookies keep up with the intense schedule? Will the Flyers fold up and disappear before playoffs are even half over?

In the short time I’ve been a fan, I’ve been convinced Flyers can win it all every playoff. I have no stats or evidence to fall back on and I probably wouldn’t understand them anyway. Maybe it’s just a fan’s blind faith. I’ll always be convinced that if the Flyers play their best, games will be won. We get so frustrated when the Flyers don’t play like they we know they can, forgetting that original expectations for this year were low. It was a rebuilding year.

So whatever happens during playoffs (and I know we haven’t clinched a spot yet, but we’re close), I plan to keep in mind that the team has already impressed and gone above and beyond what was thought possible. I will also be screaming and yelling at the television like a lunatic for as many games as it takes.

(photos from 2010)