Flyers’ Playoff Game 1: Watching from the sidelines is hard
I’m going to deviate slightly from the hockey theme for a moment, but bear with me. I promise there’s a point.
During high school, I held the position of defensive specialist for our volleyball team. For the uninitiated, that means I played in the back row only, usually as a substitution for a front-row hitter whose defensive skills were subpar. The strict substitution rules which govern volleyball rotations dictated that I only played three out of every six rotations – or half the game. The other half, I sat on the bench and cheered my teammates on.
Sitting on the bench, you notice a myriad of things. You observe the formation of plays, the habits of the opposition, and a host of other tiny details inherent in any sport. As a player, it was sometimes painful to see a play develop because you were helpless to effect change from the bench. All you could do was trust your team to succeed while you waited.
That same feeling came back to me last night during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers. Granted, I’m not remotely close to being a professional hockey player. Yet from my sofa, even I could see that Danny Briere dipsy-doodling at the Penguins blueline midway through the second period would not end well. And seconds later, the Pens obtained the 3-on-1 resulting in Tyler Kennedy’s first playoff goal.
The fans at the Wachovia Center on Sunday afternoon did their utmost to carry the Flyers. They chanted, applauded, cheered, jeered, stood on their feet, and made just about every other sound imaginable to bring energy into the building. It wasn’t enough because ultimately we just sit on the bench. It’s the players who decide how badly they want the Stanley Cup.
The Pittsburgh Penguins announced their intentions last night, loud and clear, before a host of white at the Igloo. It’s time for the Flyers to respond in kind. Their playoff lives depend on it.