One goal could have changed the mood of the entire offseason. In fact, it could have added some silverware to a trophy case that hasn’t been opened in quite a while.
The Philadelphia Flyers fell to the New York Rangers in a classic game seven. The final score ended 2-1, but the back and forth play by both teams deserved an overtime period. After the Flyers fell behind 2-0, the team came to life in arguably the best period of the season. Rookie Jason Akeson, front and center throughout this series, scored a crucial momentum-changing goal to halve the lead. Scott Hartnell, a leader that seemed to fall by the wayside throughout the playoffs, delivered a morale boosting blow to Benoit Pouliot that changed the attitude of the team.
Though he surrendered the game-winning goal, 25-year old Steve Mason played as if he were in Pelle’s jersey. Mason made save after save, each more spectacular than the former. As Keith Jones stated in the second intermission, “This game should be five to nothing if it weren’t for Mason.”
With under eight minutes left, coach Craig Berube moved to a three-line rotation to finish the game. The three men left out were Bill Hall, Zac Rinalo, and $4.5 million forward Vincent Lecavalier. Lecavalier, signed from Tampa Bay this offseason, washed away his twenty0goal season with a ghostly performance in the playoffs.
The period continued in an epic two-way battle, as the Flyers and Rangers traded scoring chances end-to-end. Claude Giroux flailed in towards goal at one point, and flicked a puck up at the net while lying flat on his stomach. King Henrik saved the Rangers in this instance, as Giroux grazed the prospect of a tie game.
More chances flowed through the period, as Kimmo Timonen saw an open road towards goal with three minutes remaining. Timonen caught a centering pass at the point, and chose to fire immediately instead of skating in on goal. Rick Nash was able to dive and deflect the puck, letting it hopelessly sail above the net.
A clearance with seven seconds left resulted in a no-ice call, all but cutting the wings off of the Flyers hopes. A noble, valiant effort fell a few bounces short as fans back home saluted the players’ work. The players shed emotional moments after the final buzzer, as Jak Voracek held back tears and Wayne Simmonds threw his hand down in regret. The two are aware that the team is going to undergo serious changes this offseason. A missed opportunity will result in a painful, excruciating summer. From all of those at Philadelphia Sports Nation, until next fall: an eventful offfseason awaits.