To call this series between the Philadelphia Flyers (5) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (4) "surprising" may just be this season's largest understatement.
Experts around North America had chosen the Pens as the favorites to advance forward into the Semis, and even to the Stanley Cup Final. To the majority of their amazement, it certainly seems as if their pick is wasting away at an alarming rate right before everyone's eyes.
Philadelphia's up 3 - 0 in the QuarterFinals and are on the verge of making their first post-season sweep in many, many moons.
Game 4 will be a Do-or-Die match for Steel Country, but after their progressing meltdowns in the prior three contests, many wonder if Pittsburgh has what it takes to compose themselves, start playing Penguin hockey, and begin building a miracle comeback that has only taken place in worldwide professional sports history on four occasions.
Wednesday night will be Philadelphia's chance to clear away Pittsburgh with their brooms. But there's something different about this tilt compared to the few in the rear-view mirror....
....it's separated by an extra day on our calendar.
Hockey is all about momentum; It's about the momentum you build, and the momentum you can sustain. At times, it's what gives lower seeded teams the upper-hand on their higher ranked adversaries. Now that the Flyers have taken complete control of the momentum, the series lead, and even the emotion between the two heated rivals, we all wonder if today -- Tuesday -- is just a bear trap (no Bryz pun intended) lying in our progressive path.
Well, we can agree that our boys are saying all the right things that need to be said, and seem to have their heads on straight.
But it's never that simple.
I wouldn't say I believe the Penguins will make a comeback. However, I absolutely will not rule that small possibility out either. We Flyers fans all have a personal, shared memory of our SemiFinals series against the Bruins just two post-seasons ago when our tenacious willpower formulated a miraculous 0 - 3 comeback to win the sequence of of tilts, 4 - 3.
It stunned the world. And let me tell you, my friends....if there's a Club in the Playoffs right now capable of regenerating such a phenomenon, it's the highly offensive powered Pittsburgh Penguins.
These 24-extra hours added in-between Games 3 and 4 could potentially prove to be exactly what the Pens needed to get their heads in gear. We've seen their players -- from stars to 4th line pugilists -- lose their cool in front of millions watching. Even the most hardcore, stubborn Flyers fan can tell you that that is NOT how Pittsburgh wins games.
Our boys have managed to severely alter that homegrown strategy of theirs, and the last thing we need is for Pittsburgh to reincarnate that dominating factor.
Though the past doesn't prove to mean everything, I went ahead and took a look at the Penguins post-season series record in games played after a two-day hiatus. I began my research from the 2007-08 season when they faced the Detroit Red Wings in the Finals the first time.
The result of my analysis was 8-wins, 3-losses.
So if recent history plays any role in Game 4's outcome, Pittsburgh has the advantage.
Hey, I realize those numbers are a bit abstract, and I'll be the first to report that Pittsburgh had not gone down 3 - 0 in any of those series I took into account. So this may be fresh, brand-spankin' new territory which could develop into becoming a positive for the Flyers.
We DO -- after all -- control virtually everything in this series.
Let's put these dirtbags to bed and get them preppin' their golf bags.
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