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Flyers-Canadiens Game 5: Send Us Home Happy

May 24, 2010, 4:57 PM EDT

Earlier today, CSN's John Boruk pointed out that the Flyers haven't won a playoff series at home in six years, and that the home fans deserve to see a celebration. Oh captain our captain Mike Richards concurs, acknowledging that it hasn't all been easy:

"It'd be nice (to win at home) because the fans deserve it, for sticking behind us through the whirlwind of a season we just had."

Flyers Fans Wachovia Center
Agreed. We totally do. No Flyers fans at any point wrote this team off for a surefire first-round casualty. Right guys?

OK maybe the shocks on the bandwagon were tested a few times, but the fans still came out for every home game as well as plenty on the road, and tonight the Flyers have the chance to reward themselves and their faithful. Given the scene at the Wachovia Center when the team won game 7 in Boston, the magnitude of the celebration in the building could be almost incomparable. That is, of course, unless they continue the streak… 

We can't forget that the Canadiens have faced this exact scenario already in the playoffs, down 3-1 for a game 5 in Washington. The Habs won that game, then the next two, and we all had a good laugh at the expense of the Caps and their diehard fans. 

Until Richie and the guys are politely ignoring the Prince of Wales Trophy, it's best they (and we) remember that it's still possible to meet the Capitals this postseason, albeit for a premature round of golf. 

That said, the Flyers are in great position to put the series away tonight. The Habs were completely unable to follow up their outstanding game 3 performance, getting shut out for the third time in four games and literally hoping that key Flyers were hurt. When talking about the many times that Flyers needed to leave the ice (AKA Skategate), Scott Gomez was quoted after the game as saying this:

"They had some big names going," Gomez said. "You're kind of hoping they don't come back. I saw Richards go over, and, yeah, you're kind of hoping in the back of your mind, hoping it's an injury."    

Sounds a lot less like a veteran ready to lead his team to a monumental comeback and more like a guy whose side is ready to pack up and call it a season. I guess I can understand momentarily feeling that way, but it's a terrible quote to serve up to the masses. Definitely should have gone the Jaroslav Spacek route:

"I was worried," Spacek said. "I thought they had diarrhea or something. Like they were going back and forth from the locker room. I steer away from the sand traps and the golf season. It wasn't me." 

Sure it wasn't. In any case, it sounds like the Flyers' depth at forward and defense is getting to the Canadiens. 

The return of Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere further tipped the series in the Flyers' favor causing matchup issues for the Canadiens defense and upgrading the defense for two separate Flyers forward lines. Dan Carcillo and Andreas Nodl both gave solid contributions in this postseason, but we all know Carter and Lappy are clear upgrades at their respective positions. Carcillo will again be a healthy scratch for the Flyers. 

Other than the sudden health of those two key players, the momentum heading into game 4 was all Habs. Coming off a dismantling of the Flyers in game 3, they had a golden opportunity to tie the series up at home and put the Flyers on the ropes. But after being shut out again, you have to wonder what they'll bring tonight. 

We've seen enough from the Canadiens this postseason to know that they're surely capable of winning at least one more game in this series, but a look back to the Flyers' victory over the Devils reminds us that they know how to put away a series once their skate is on the jugular. The Habs have fared very well in elimination games; so too have the Flyers. 

One more win, and the franchise returns to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1997. Speaking on behalf of the more than 19,000 fans ready to storm the Wach, please let it be tonight. I'll be in the top row screaming my face off.

(Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)