Why do I love sports? As I might say, let me count the ways, but the count starts with this, and that is that sports are plays with no scripts. Games leave us on the edge of our seats, twisting and turning with the winds of reality, the endings forever in doubt until the final zeroes emerge.
Plays have endings, games have finishes. Movies have trailers, sports have predictions. Variety is the spice of life, and games season us each and every time we get into our seats or settle into our recliners, watching and listening for the magic whose name is uncertainty.
The Flyers were dead heading into the final Sunday against the Rangers. Or were they? Thumped at the Garden, they somehow frayed the rope of safety to its barest of edges before prevailing in a shootout, opening postseason’s door with the last key on the ring. The crowd stood and cheered, at the accomplishment to be sure, but more so at the sizzle that the steak had brought them that afternoon. We all want to be part of something unique, and the hundreds of thousands that will claim they were there years from now wish they were one of the lucky ones that could pass a lie detector test after saying it.
Great, they’re in. And now, the greatest of draws stands before them. They have defeated New Jersey’s Devils 5 of 6, and now 4 of 7 would be enough. That must be too easy to be true, right? Well, we know the answer to that one………..now. We didn’t then, and watching the orange and black turn Marty’s merry men into the best conditioned couch potatoes in Sopranoland was a sight to behold.
Brian Boucher? The backup? Yes, that Brian Boucher, and this time he closed the deal, unlike years back. But didn’t Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, and Ian Laperriere get hurt? Yes, but heart, grit, and a hot goalie will erase that page of apparent script and write a new one, and that those Flyers did. Peter Laviolette was spinning some magic in his first run at Lord Stanley’s cup in our neck of the woods, and it was a sight to behold.
Boston shouldn’t be next, right? What a dream draw. Shakespeare would have had Ovechkin come to South Broad Street, at least I think so, but the playwright called uncertainty wrote a surprise ending.
Well, the Bruins will be a tough matchup, this will probably be a long, close series. As Meatloaf might say, one out of two ain’t bad. Then again, he might not, but let’s not diverge here. What? How do the Flyers get down 3-0? A couple of bad bounces, a couple of clutch goals by the Bruins, and a long, hot summer was beckoning. Until game 4, when Simon Gagne put on Superman’s cape and flew back into South Philly in the nick of time. Whew.
Well, to win in Boston won’t be easy, right? Gotta have a great game out of Boosh…or at least half of a game. The script said that Michael Leighton was done for the season, but heck, maybe he can dress tonight and step in if…………..
Can you believe this? A combined shutout, the first in the postseason since 1955. Hello, Newman, I mean Leighton. Only two teams in hockey history have come back from 3-0, and one in baseball. But, as I explain when talking about gambling, odds are shown in a format ending with one. Like 10-1, or 8-1. The (1) means it can happen, or else it would not be odds, but certainty. And remember, certainty means script. By now you see the drift.
So game 6 has ended, and the obvious beckons in Boston on Friday. Or does it? Can the Flyers close the deal? Or will reality bite them in the face, and send Beantown’s boys to Pittsburgh? Did I say Pittsburgh? Oops, tear up that script as well.
What will happen in that seventh game? I have no idea. But I can’t wait to find out. Go Flyers! The face off is a pen, and the clock is the paper. The script is waiting for us…Friday. Enjoy.