SHOULD FLYERS' FANS BE NERVOUS: ASK MY 14-YEAR OLD
Never a brilliant prognosticator when it comes to the NHL playoffs, I had an unmatched performance with my predictions.
I went 8-0 in the opening round, 3-1 in the second round, 1-1 in the third round and nailed the Cup Finals for an impressive record of 13-2.
I looked around, at the time, at all the major media outlets that cover the NHL and no one was even close. I felt like a genius.
I came back to earth this year though. A 5-3 first round followed by a 1-2 (so far) second round is more akin to what I am used to doing.
However, that doesn't mean that my surprisingly sensational run last year didn't have an impact on future generations of NHL playoff forecasters.
Take my eldest child for example. The kid, who is a columnist for his middle school newspaper (go figure) has been near-perfect in his projections so far this year.
That aside, there was one prediction which wasn't published anywhere but on my Blackberry.
The text came through at 10:27 pm on May 5th. It was about a half hour after the Flyers had lost Game 3 to the Bruins and were facing a 3-0 deficit.
Here's what the text said:
"Boston is now going to feel what it's like to have someone come back from 3-0 to beat them."
He was of course referring to the Red Sox 3-0 comeback to beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, one of only three instances in professional sports history where a team overcame a 3-0 hole to win the series.
That's three in 278 possibilities (in NHL, NBA and MLB), or 1.1 percent.
It was a bold prediction by the kid, and in my estimation was his lame attempt at convincing himself that after a perfect first round of predictions (yes, he picked Montreal to beat Washington) that he was looking to stay perfect (he has since lost his perfect record, courtesy of the Pittsburgh loss, but it is, to this point, his only blemish).
I sent him a text back that said: "You are a positive soul son, but the Flyers are toast."
Yet, here we are, nine days later, and Game 7 is upon us in a couple hours.
He has maintained his confidence, and it has grown to an almost unbearable braggadocio at this point, but I can't say I don't agree with him now.
It's funny, but I was talking to a colleague this morning and told him that even though I never would have expected the Flyers to come back from a 3-0 series deficit, heading into each of the last three games, I felt the Flyers would win each singular game.
I thought they'd save face in Game 4. I liked their attitude at the morning skate in Game 5, and even though I was more 50-50 on that one, just before game-time went with the Flyers.
Once they got it back to Wachovia Center, I felt they would certainly force a Game 7 and they did.
At no point though, did I ever think they would win this series.
I do now.
You can sense it in the way they talk, and this morning was no different. You could sense the panic in the Bruins, who decided to go into a bit of a bunker mentality today, canceling their morning skate and avoiding the media altogether.
The Flyers are on the brink of making history, something no one believed they would do.
Except for my kid.
Oh, and one more thing, proving Philly loyalty never dies, no matter where professional athletes from our area play, check out Philly native and Simon Gratz product Rasheed Wallace following the Celtics elimination of the Cleveland Cavaliers last night.
He didn't have anything to say about hockey, but his wardrobe choice drew a very clear line in the sand that he wasn't puling for the guys who he normally shares a locker room hallway with tonight.
Also, I spoke with Simon Gagne today about his foot. He said it still hurts, but that he didn't re-injure it in Game 6 and there was never any question about playing in Game 7.
He said players need to play through pain in the playoffs to get to their ultimate goal and that his foot, while it hurts, doesn't hurt any more today then it did in Game 4 when he returned.
He also threw out an Allen Iverson impression about not skating yesterday:
"I'm o.k.," he said. "I didn't practice yesterday because, well, it's just a practice."
He did go on to say that it would give him time to heal between games, but he did laugh when saying it and knew we would all flash back to the memorable Iverson "practice" press conference.
Meanwhile Blair Betts did skate this morning and is good to go for tonight.