The Philadelphia Flyers have had a great 2008 season when all is said and done and, regardless of the outcome of game 5 in Pittsburgh (the chances of a comeback are truly nought in this series), any Flyers fan should be well satisfied with the Eastern Conference Finals appearance. This is for two main reasons:
1/ The Flyers went from a last place finish in the NHL last season to top FOUR (there is no third place playoff with Dallas)…along the way knocking off two higher seeds (including the top seed, Montreal). And getting into the playoffs was a performance by itself — considering the disastrous 10-game losing streak in the latter part of the season.
2/ There is hope yet that next season CAN be better as they got to this point without their best player (Simon Gagne who had played all of 7 games and then was out with a “mild” concussion) and they [will have] bowed out against the mighty Pens without their best defensive player, Kimmo Timonen (which hurts against the best NHL offensive player Evgneni Malkin). Moreover, there are several rookie or young Flyers who, with a solid playoff run and a good season under the belt, may come out to bloom…
Meanwhile, it is quite fun to observe the two Conference finals. The Penguins are dominating the Flyers in much the same way the Detroit Red Wings are dominating the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference Final. And, the two dominating teams both have led their Conference Finals series 3-0 and both lost the fourth game away against the “we have nothing to lose” mentality of the reeling opposition.
Now the Flyers must go to Pittsburgh and Dallas must go to Detroit to face the executioner. The home teams in both cases are ruthless: the Pens are 11-2 in the Playoffs, 7-0 at home. Detroit is 11-3 overall and also 7-0 at home. And, if a playoff game hinges on any one player, Marty Turco has managed to beat Detroit only once lifetime and is 0-9-2 at Detroit.
There is talk in Philadelphia that Braydon Coburn and Kimmo may return for Game 5 in their relative bruised conditions. Even the the consideration is inspiring. The “nothing to lose” mentality will go to Pittsburgh and we’ll see what happens; but come what may, it has been a great season for the Flyers and a great demonstration for any corporation that has been “down and out”: performance follows the quality of the team as a whole when the team knows how to stick together in the tough periods.