Claude Comes Through
As the goal horn sounded, the puck maintained its position on the line, never sliding further in or out of the net. Simon Gagne’s would be game winning goal in overtime was not to be. As if I wasn’t close enough to laying on my floor in the fetal position, now I had a good reason. The chance had come (hard to tell at the moment due to some more horrendous camerawork by the Versus crew, thanks again guys), and the chance had slipped away even quicker than its arrival. The Chicago Blackhawks were going to find a way to win game three just as they had in game one and two. A ton of bricks occupied my stomach, as I plotted my heavy fall into the safe position in which I spent the first nine months of my existence.
However, before I could begin my move to the floor, an awful line change occurred by the visitors. The miniscule Danny Briere passed to Matt ‘Hobey Baker Award Winner’ Carle. I looked. There he stood. On the crease, unattended, was the kid I said was going to face “baptism by fire and the necessity to grow up when the chips are down” earlier that day in my post. My favorite Flyer, the player whose orange sweater I wear for every single game. A 22 year old kid forward that has spawned a subculture within Flyers fans, one that engages in his superstition of eating grilled cheese sandwiches on game days. Yeah, I ordered one. Yeah, I put his name on my order that day. Claude got his sandwich, and Claude tipped in the game winning goal. The crowd roared, the Flyers came together in a mass of orange along the boards, the Blackhawks left for the showers. And me? Well, I have no freaking clue what I did. It’s probably better that way.
The game three victory was essential to the health of the Flyers Stanley Cup hopes. They got the job done, and now must approach game four the same way. Yet again, Briere’s line was strong, Giroux ‘grew up when the chips were down’, and Ville Leino was absolutely outstanding (although he has been scratched most of his time in Philadelphia, a few have begged for his admission to the lineup *cough cough*. Sorry, I needed that vindication). So, where the hell has the first line been? Richards missed a couple of golden chances early on and was absent thereafter. Carter was an absolute joke wrapped inside a disaster, while Gagne was solid as usual on both sides of the puck. It’s kind of hard for Gags to get solid chances when his line mates are THAT miserable. The Flyers may get by with timely contributions from players like Giroux and Leino in game four, but they have little to no chance to win the series if the first line continues to stink. The defense was solid for the most part, and Leighton was decent enough to give the team a chance to win. To Leighton’s credit, he did make some extremely solid saves down the stretch in the third period and overtime to preserve the 3-3 tie. However, that is supposed to be in his job description.
Game four is on the horizon now. The Flyers know they can beat Chicago, and the Blackhawks know they are no longer invincible. Friday night the Wachovia Center should be boisterous and hungry for a deadlocked series heading back to Chicago. Count on watching another great game, full of twists and turns most likely ending in a one goal advantage, of course. For my sake, and the sake of Flyers fans everywhere Claude will probably eat his grilled cheese. This Claude will too.
Win Game Four.