Get Flyered up sports fans. After a 13 year hiatus the Broad Street Bullies are back in the Stanley Cup Finals. After losing in excruciating fashion in their last two Conference Final trips, the Flyers have exercised their demons and have made it back to the finals with a most remarkable run through the playoffs. Their opponent, the Chicago Blackhawks, may come in as the favorites after sweeping San Jose in the Western Final, but I think this series is going to be a thriller. Most of all though, it will be good for the recovery of a sport still reeling after a lockout.
Since the lockout of 2004-2005 we have not really had a marquee Stanley Cup Finals matchup. Whether it be big stars facing off, or two big cities pitted against each other, it has just not happened. Let's look at some of the recent Stanley Cup Champions; Pittsburgh, Detroit, Anaheim, Carolina, Tampa Bay, New Jersey, Colorado. Not exactly world centers. Since even before the lockout, we have not seen a series with two big cities like this one in a long time. It is great for hockey because now you can add two large hockey markets in America that will be re-charged in their passion for hockey. We have never questioned the Canadian passion for hockey, but in recent history it has lost some luster in America. This will certainly help spur some more interest in the good old US of A. Now all the league needs is New York and L.A. to square off in the Finals.
As for the actual series, I hesitate to pick a champion due to the lack of information I have about the Blackhawks. I know that the Flyers beat them in the only game they played this year, but I also know from watching the Olympics that Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Marian Hossa are all nasty. Then again, the Flyers have coach Peter LaViolette who led the Hurricanes to the cup only a few years ago. At this point in the year, it is anybody's game. I certainly wouldn't count the Flyers out of any series after all they have been through though.
Through their ups and downs since their last title in 1975, the Flyers have always had a loyal following. They have always been competitive, but just haven't seemed to put it all together. Right now they seem to be surging at the right time and, surprise surprise, they are getting great play from their goaltender. Whatever happens, this is going to be a great series for the sport of hockey. Lastly, LATS GEW FLOYERS!!!!