Philly Phaithful
Better With Popcorn

Belief in Game 7 *Is Necessary

If you’re wearing an orange and black shirsey and you’re standing on the ledge of the Walt Whitman Bridge, step back. Actually, if that’s your location, your upcoming leap is not only into the Delaware, but also off the bandwagon. In that case, please ignore my advice to step off the ledge, I’d rather not have you around. True Flyers fans are facing a do or die game six that waits on Wednesday night. Win or go home. The reality is so pure and harsh, what type of mindset should we have?

To understand the magnitude of game six from a fan’s perspective, it’s important to review why finding belief in the team’s success could be difficult. The first obvious problem is the 7-4 gauntlet that the Blackhawks threw down on the Flyers Sunday night. Nothing sparks the fuse of disbelief like an obvious decision in which your team is on the very short end of the stick. Another interesting issue that must be faced is the shakiness that Michael Leighton showed in goal Sunday. Coach Laviolette has come out and said, (without words, don’t ask) that Leights will remain in goal Wednesday. Obviously, I expect him to be on an extremely short leash. What’s at the end of that leash you may wonder? Brian Boucher, the backup who was less than impressive in relief of Leighton in the blowout loss. Oy vey.

With that being said, at this point you look to your leaders aka your top line, right? Maybe not. The top line is sitting at what seems like a minus 346 when on the ice this series. It’s not awful that they can’t score, but the lack of scoring coupled with defensive liability makes awful look like Heidi Klum. One or the other I could live with, but both? Yikes. To look on the opposing team’s bench only increases the worries. Mulletman Kane and Dustin Byfuglien look to be in the flow of the game, mostly contributed to the changing of lines that Coach Q has implemented for the end of game four and on. For those who think the outlook is grim, I’ve set your table. If you choose to be a pessimist, chow down. Usually, I may have been obliged to join you. But not now.

Now that I have reviewed why disbelief is a convenient idea, I must turn around and express why it’s necessary to find belief. The first premise that highlights the need for belief is my firsthand understanding of fanhood. I consider myself a good fan, yet I’m not always seeping with positivity and confidence. I often find every flaw in the teams I love and make fun of it, laugh at it, yell about it and throw things because of it. Why do I do such things? Quite simply, I hate underachieving. I have such high standards that they are completely unrealistic. I think the team should play to its ability night in, night out. Although it’s understandable, it’s not fair.

Every one of us lacks perfection, day in and day out at work, school or anything of which we participate. To expect the surpassing of expectations or meeting them every game is far-fetched. It is the realization of my irrationality that I can further understand my frustration this season. When I slammed Scott Hartnell all year for failing to contribute on the score sheet, it was because I knew he was capable of doing so. You wouldn’t catch me slamming Blair Betts for failing to score, because that’s completely unrealistic. With that being said, nothing about the Flyers as a team this postseason could be categorized as underachieving (notice I said ‘as a team’, Jeff Carter I’m still looking at you), therefore I have no right to yell, make fun, or strengthen my throwing arm. Another point of emphasis is the success that has been attained beyond anyone's wildest expectations thus far. The Flyers have fared better than 28 other teams in the NHL this season. If you would have told me that at any point this season, I would have punched you directly in the mouth for sheer cruelty. At this point, I would also owe you an apology.

Yet, here they are. They have come so far this season, and they're so close to raising the cup that giving up on them would not only be wrong, but downright cowardly. Let me remind the Flyers fans out there, they didn’t give up on us or themselves when they were facing elimination down 0-3 to Boston. They didn’t give up when they needed a win on the final day to make the playoffs and King Henry was stonewalling every shot they threw at net. They didn’t give up when they were close to being the worst team in the league. They just wouldn’t quit. Who am I to quit on them? That thought has been my playoff mantra of 2010, and now is no time to change.

The funny thing about belief is that it only takes one thing to create it. We can find full belief from anything that is encouraging and it spreads to full fledged belief. Yet, when something goes wrong for one shift or one night, we find disbelief. Two wins away from the cup for a team that has been resilient and historic this season, and we find disbelief. When any disbelief exists, the whole cause is poisoned. The two frames of mind cannot coexist. I know that sounds simple, and it should. It should sound that simple because it IS that simple. I don’t know if the Flyers will win or lose Wednesday, none of us do. I’m nervous, anxious, and everywhere in between. Regardless of my state, I still believe. No bad break or terrible penalty will poison my belief. If you choose to trade your belief for disbelief and jump off the bandwagon, be my guest. Just be sure to surrender your fanhood too.

Push it to Seven.

While I sit alone and slam my stick down and begin to curse at the officials and opposing players, visit my home page at www.mtrible.wordpress.com and follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mtrible