The Philadelphia Flyers will tell you that they never lost faith. But that, of course, is the public face of any team that finds itself down three games to none in a best-of-seven series.
They said all the right things after Game 3, then offered them again after clawing out that overtime win in Game 4. But it wasn't until
They were speaking words before. Now, they actually
Two teams have come back from a three-games-to-none hole in the NHL playoffs. The 1942 Maple Leafs and 1975 Islanders. Can the Flyers actually complete the trifecta?
No, it doesn't happen often and for good reason. It's said that the fourth win is the hardest to earn in any series, but it's still a lot easier to pick it up when you've got three in the bank than when you've got none. That's why teams may stumble with a 3-0 lead, but they rarely fall.
But sometimes the pieces all fall into place. It happened just last month for the Windsor Spitfires, who battled back from down three to the Kitchener Rangers and captured their Ontario Hockey League semi-final series. In that case, the Spits were a superior team that finally found the go button in the nick of time to beat a spirited but inexperienced Rangers squad.
It's arguable whether the Flyers are better in this case. Philadelphia won two more games during the regular season, but finished three points behind Boston thanks to the shootout and the loser point -- but the Flyers have got two things going for them: a healthier roster and momentum.
Sure, you can debate the value of momentum, especially this spring when a team that looks like month-old lunch meat one night comes out like a Morton's steak the next. As unprepared as the Bruins were to compete in Game 5, they certainly didn't acquit themselves less admirably than the Sharks did in losing Game 4 of their series with the Red Wings by that lopsided 7-1 score. No reason Boston can't corral its forces, regain focus and take care of business like San Jose did in its 2-1 series clincher.
Well, no reason other than all those gurneys piled up in the halls of the TD BankNorth Garden. Give Philly credit. They're willing and able to kick an opponent when they're down.
The Bruins were never the deepest team to begin with -- see the recent call-up of minor league sweater-fillers
There's also reason for concern about the play of rookie netminder
While they're rolling down the slippery slope, the Flyers are simply picking up speed. Philly has questions of its own to deal with, particularly in net. Of course, that's like saying
And how about
Could the B's turn it around? Sure. But when you add it all up, it starts to feel like 2010 is about to be added to 1942 and 1975.