You know, there may come a time where the last-game-of-the-season shootout loss that killed our playoff hopes will be a good thing. The loss put the Rangers in the 10 spot at the draft where they selected Dylan McIlrath, who may very well grow up to be a star on Broadway (like I and others have predicted). Sure he may well have still been on the board later in the round but ya never know and a first-round heartbreaking loss in the playoffs compared to a crease-clearing stud ... well, I take the kid and the possibility of a Cup down the line.
Hey, when you lose in that fashion, you have to take what you can get. We can also look at it as the Flyers had to band together to beat us and the brotherhood carried them to the Cup Finals. That good feeling and $2.25 will get you on the subway (for now). But at least they lost in the Finals. Nyeh nyeh.
Familiar Foes: The core of the Flyers will return - Briere, Carter, Hartnell, Richards, Pronger, Timonen. Claude Giroux, Dirtbag Dan Carcillo, Ian Laperriere, Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle ... just anming them makes me grimace in anger. For some reason, Michael Leighton will also be back in net, despite him handing Pat Kane the Cup-winning goal.
N00bz: At the Finals everyone talked about how Philly was at a disadvantage because of their third defensive pairing so they went right out and got a new third defensive pairing - Sean O'Donnell and Andrej Meszaros. Up front there will definitely be two new Flyers, former Rangers Jody Shelley and Nik Zherdev. It is an interesting two-some as Shelley has all the heart and desire Zherdev doesn't possess while Zherdev has the speed and skill that Shelley could only dream of. Ville Leino was quite quiet through much of the regular season but starred in the playoffs so Philadelphia will be praying he can keep it going this fall, if only to replace the scoring provided by the departed Simon Gagne.
Last Year: Saturday, December 19th 2-1 Rangers win; Wednesday, December 30th 6-0 Flyers win; Thursday, January 21st 2-0 Flyers win; Sunday, March 14th 3-1 Ranger win; Friday, April 9th 4-3 Ranger win; and Sunday, April 11th 2-1 Flyer shootout victory.
This Year: Thursday, November 4th in Philly; Saturday, December 18th in Philly; Sunday, January 16th @ MSG; Sunday, February 20th @ MSG; Sunday, March 6th @ MSG; and Sunday, April 3rd in Philly.
What They Mean To Blue: A crushing defeat in the Finals could do one of two things 1-make a team hungrier or 2-make the team fall apart. If anyone can recover from losing, Pete Laviolette can ... after all, he coached the Islanders. The Flyers will again be a dangerous team, even with no goaltending for the umpteenth season.