The Philadelphia Flyers punched their ticket to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals after beating the Montreal Canadiens Monday night. The Eastern Conference Champions will now face the Chicago Blackhawks for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The Flyers capped off a dream post-season run by destroying the dream of another. The Canadiens were on a run of their own, defeating the toughest teams in the league behind their eighth seeding in the playoffs.
The Habs were down 3-1 in their series with the Washington Captiols, they came back to beat the Caps, and continued on to play the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. They trailed the Penguins 3-2 and defeated that team.
“Later in the summer you might look back and say, ‘Hey we did all right,’ but right now it’s a tough pill to swallow,” Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill said.
The Flyers have taken the opportunity afforded to them by perseverance. They faced their own deficit against the Boston Bruins in the previous round. They were down 3-0 in the semifinals to the Bruins and down 0-3 in Game 7 of that series. They made a dream come-back to take the series from the Bruins in a 4-3 victory.
Philadelphia center Mike Richards has been a key player throughout the Flyers playoff run, and showed up big in Game 5. After going down 1-0 in the first period, Richards scored a shorthanded goal to kick-start the Philadelphia offense. He added two assists and go the game’s first star. Richards knows there is still a lot of fight left in his team.
“We kept going and didn’t quit. Down 0-3 we didn’t quit. All year that has been our motto. It feels good especially for the fans,” Richards said. “It’s been great so far. It’s been great along the way. The journey hasn’t ended. Hopefully we have a Cinderella story in the end, but we need to prepare for Chicago.”
One of Richard’s assists came on a Jeff Carter goal that gave the Flyers a two-goal lead in the second period. Carter has come back from what looked like a season ending injury to become a vital role player during the series. He also scored an empty-netter that sent the Philadelphia faithful into a frenzy.
Richards knows that his team is unconventional, and that might be what takes them to the pinnacle of hockey success.
“It took a lot to get here. It’s not the trophy we want, but we haven’t done anything conventional all year especially in the playoffs,” Richards said. “So we’ll go against the grain one more time.”
NHL Sportsbooks have the Chicago Blackhawks as the favorites in Game 1 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals at -260. The Philadelphia Flyers’ chances to upset are set at +200.