Philly’s Improbable Journey

Flyers Hartnell and goalie Leighton celebrate their win over the Canadiens in Game 1 of their NHL Eastern Conference final hockey series in Philadelphia

I'm not sure how, or why, but the Flyers are on a roll at the right time. (photosource:

The Flyers beat Montreal 3-0 last night to take a 2-0 series lead. I don’t know what’s more difficult to wrap my brain around: the fact Montreal all of a sudden can’t score or the fact that Michael Leighton has pitched two straight shutouts for Philadelphia. I know the Habs aren’t exactly offensive dynamos, but they did manage to score 9 goals in games 6 and 7 against the Pens. And Leighton? He was a waiver-wire acquisition late in the season. He’s not supposed to be doing this.

I was so consumed by covering the Pens this post-season that I neglected to follow any of the other series closely. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve noticed the Flyers amazing run, but it hasn’t really registered until now. What our rivals to the east have accomplished thus far is pretty amazing. When you consider Philly needed a shootout win in the final game of the regular season to even make it…

Listen, I hate the Flyers. In my mind, they are the Pens’ biggest rival – not Washington. But it’s time to take notice and give them some props. First, they ousted Division champ New Jersey. Then they pulled off the unimaginable, coming back from a 3-0 deficit against Boston. They’ve done all of this with backup goalies and injuries to some of their best players. Unreal.

It will be interesting to see how the Flyers fare in Montreal, where the fans are proving to be as insane as the fans in Philadelphia. The series is far from over, but the Flyers are on a 6-game streak and they have the hot goalie. It’s hard to watch as a Pens fan, but this is a prime example of why playoff hockey is so great.

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  • Eugene Markman

    It’s pretty insane what Leighton and the team has done. It’s fun to watch. Since you hate us, and Montreal ended your Cup defense, who you pullin’ for in the East?

    • Bill Mayer

      I’m torn. As a lifelong Pittsburgher, I think rooting for Philadelphia in any sport results in eternal damnation. It’s written on some ancient scroll somewhere. Let me ask you: As a Flyers fan, would you ever root for the Pens? Enjoy the ride, Eugene.

      • Eugene Markman

        Not while Crosby is there. When Lemieux and Jagr were around, and when the Flyers had been eliminated, I didn’t mind seeing the Pens win some games. I never hated the Pens ’til Crosby got there. Even now I hate the Devils far, far more.

  • Kook

    This Flyer’s squad has heart. That’s what their success is all about. Their team chemistry is unbelievable and you can feel it pulsating through the TV screen (for those of us not lucky enough to be at the games) when you watch them. They’re out there for each other. When they were down 3-0 in the Boston series, it’d be a lie to say I wasn’t a bit worried, but I was also extremely optimistic and full of hope. I followed this team all season and knew that with the amount of heart they put out they could accomplish anything. Bruised up, battered down, and with a 3rd-string goalie acquired off waivers in the middle of the season as their backstop, they battle on.

  • Bilbroxain

    I encourage the Flyers to go all the way. Because, being our rivals, they better be damn good.