Better With Popcorn


Ah, the empty net goal. The one thing that punches you in the gut so hard, you’re forced to sit down and sigh. And curse. And kick. And moan. The empty netter is the lowest point of a fan’s nightly investment. As Patrice Bergeron’s shot slowly flutters down the ice, it becomes painstakingly clear…We lost. And there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it.

At the edge of the cliff the Flyers stand. If it were up to me, I’d probably try to shove them off. But that’s the saddest part, I couldn’t. I really, sincerely, couldn’t off them the way the Bruins are. Sure I love them, and sure I hate them, and sure it’s the unhealthiest relationship anyone could ever have. But that’s not the point. The point is I’ve come too far to run now. I’ve come too damn far to shove them over that ledge. At this point, they’re weak. At this point, I’m weaker than they are.

I won’t begin to describe the scatterbrained scheme that I’ve had all year in reference to this team. They couldn’t put together two consecutive weeks of solid hockey if they had Jesus centering their first line. Their goalie situation involved more people than Charlie Sheen’s bedroom. They drove me up walls, only to drop me back down again in a bed of feathers. The cycle of dysfunction continued up until Boucher stopped Olli Jokinen to send us to the playoffs. We were in. They were out. Short term memory is a wonderful thing. Next, we marched through Newark like it had been annexed to eastern Pennsylvania, punching our ticket to the second round before anyone else had. Sweet God, we had it made! “This could be the start of something!” all us Flyers fans said… But ah, the memories of inconsistent play and nightmarish puck possession suddenly flood back into my life. Damn. The utter madness of watching a game, and coaching the players, literally YELLING into the screen and having your demands fall on deaf (and in many cases dumb) ears becomes commonplace yet again. The powerlessness that is fanhood rears its ugly head. Damn.

But in my powerlessness, I must rant. They say never to make important statements or decisions less than 24 hours after something big. Screw that. There are pet peeves that must come out. If they don’t let loose, I may forget them, romanticize them, or convince myself otherwise. I hate the idea of that. So the rant lives on. And for my time at The Checking Line, the rant begins.

I mentioned to a buddy of mine how funny it would be to have a personalized #21 Flyers jersey with the name “NOT KANE” on the back would be. Sadistic, yet true. When JVR was stonewalled for the 4,567th time in 4,567 opportunities tonight by Rask, I knew he was done. He knows he’ll never score another goal. How sad. I’d give anything to see the kid score, but right now his confidence is shot like Old Yeller. And there’s not a damn thing we can do about it.

Lukas Krajicek and Ryan Parent are the gruesome twosome. It seems like every single time the two of them are on the ice, some miraculous keep-in at the blue line occurs (probably their fault, but my blinders are so thick during the games and I don’t have the stomach to record them), which leads to watching Tweedle-dee and his pal chasing the puck around until someone scores or takes a penalty. It’s cruelty. Like the Tell Tale Heart on ice. It’s morbid, scary, and downright disturbing. And there’s not a damn thing we can do about it.

Andreas Nodl and Jared Ross have had to play significant roles on the ice this series and it’s killing me. It kills me because they contribute more to our team than Darroll Powe. What kills me even more is the fact that it makes me miss Jeff Carter. Hell, it makes me miss Glen Metropolit. God rest their souls, they’re trying their best, but it just doesn’t cut it in the NHL Playoffs. And there’s not a damn thing we can do about it.

Scott Hartnell. Not a damn thing we can do.

Sustaining pressure in Boston’s zone, not a damn thing we can do.

We’re down 3-0, and there’s not a damn…nevermind.

I’d love to say there was hope. I’d love to say if we all come out and embrace the team, they can muster the strength to make this thing a series. I’d love to think that I won’t have to shave this hideously patchy excuse for a playoff beard for a while. I’d love to believe. Sadly, it just isn’t there. I will watch on Friday and I’ll pray that they win. I’ll hold out a little faith for a miracle. I can’t walk away. And at least I can be proud of that.