Expect the unexpected in Flyer’s Stanley Cup run

b9a890e0340eef77a0ddfd1094aa590d
Getty Images

The Flyers have gone 37 years without winning a Stanley Cup, despite some great teams and amazing players. How improbable would it be if the current collection of lovable misfits ended that drought? We can certainly dream for now.

A championship is a long way away, but can’t we dream for a moment after that amazing win Sunday against the gutless Penguins and their cry-baby superstar Sidney Crosby? Can’t we fantasize that this team of slow starters filled with clueless rookies, a nutty goaltender and a tempestuous coach might be the one to win it?

The next time you hear an expert commentator predict what’s going to happen in this insane series, change the channel. Nobody predicted that the Flyers would be up 3-0 against the Cup favorites. Nobody saw the Penguins unraveling the way they have. And nobody envisioned that it would be the Flyers controlling play and winning respect.

Nothing is going according to plan, and that’s just fine. The playoffs are supposed to be a test of goaltending, you say? Well, Ilya Bryzgalov has a goals-against average of nearly four — and he’s undefeated. Compared to Penguins sieve Marc-Andre Fleury, Bryzgalov is the second coming of Bernie Parent. And Bryzgalov has been a model of locker-room decorum, another shocking twist.

Then there are the six Flyers who have never been to the playoffs because this is their first year in the NHL. Sean Couturier, Matt Read, Brayden Schenn, Zac Rinaldo, Marc-Andre Bourdon and Eric Wellwood comprise nearly 30 percent of the postseason roster. The average age of the six is 22. Two of them aren’t even old enough to drink.

Couturier has caused the MVP of the regular season, Evgeni Malkin, to disappear. The kid even absorbed a cheap shot by James Neal and laughed in the thug’s face. Oh, yeah. The rookie also had a hat trick in Game 2. He will be 20 years old in December.

Schenn, 20, came here in the Mike Richards trade last summer, and the optimists predicted that someday he would compare to the former Flyer captain. But in his first year? In his first playoffs? Not a chance. And all Matt Read did was score 24 goals this season, and two more in his first three playoff games. That’s all.

What makes this team so amazing is its complete disdain for hockey convention. Good starts are imperative in the playoffs? The Flyers won the first three games after trailing 3-0, 2-0 and
1-0. Leadership is essential? Captain Chris Pronger is watching the games on his couch. A steady hand behind the bench is critical? Peter Laviolette was perched on a ledge two weeks ago threatening bodily harm against the Pittsburgh coaches.

No, this is no normal team, and this is definitely no normal series. Now all we can hope for, after so many years without a Stanley Cup, is for no normal ending, too.

Hit the bricks

A few weeks ago, there was speculation that this could be the final season for Doug Collins. Now many fans are not speculating. They’re hoping this is the end.

Collins is demanding but fair, a father figure capable of appealing to the pampered brats he has adopted. In the past month, however, his commanding presence has evolved into an awkward aimlessness. During the team’s dreadful second half, Collins has strategized with a dart board.

Exhibit A is Nik Vucevic, a rookie who played three minutes in the first three games of April, and then was named the starter two days later. Exhibit B is Evan Turner, who emerged as a star briefly last month before a return to the doghouse. Exhibit C is Andre Iguodala, who keeps getting the ball at key moments despite being the worst clutch player in the NBA.

Collins has lost his way with managing the fragile egos on the team, too, as he admitted when he said the players see him as an “ogre.” He is so unsure of himself, he checks with assistants to make certain he wasn’t too tough on the players.

The Sixers are going nowhere, with or without Doug Collins. Based on the past few weeks, they will be better off without him.

Pat the Bat doesn’t deserve it

Pat Burrell will be honored on May 15 with a final goodbye at Citizens Bank Park. I have one question: Why?

When the Phillies announced their plans to sign Burrell to a one-day contract and schedule a special day for him, my first reaction was that the team is setting a terrible precedent. To me, Burrell was a disappointment in all ways but one. He did win a championship.

As a hitter, his legacy is the strikeout. He was known early in his career for flailing at any outside breaking ball. Later, he simply refused to swing at third strikes. In nine seasons here, he struck out 1,273 times, second most in team history. For this he gets a special day?

Yes, he put up some power numbers (257 homers and 827 RBIs), but not when they mattered. Remember the parade, which he led with his dog Elvis? Well, that was the first time he led the team during the championship run. He hit .071 in the World Series, with no homers and one RBI. For a first-round pick still at the prime age of 32, shouldn’t we have expected more?

Finally, Burrell was a jerk. From the day he arrived in Clearwater, he was as aloof and fan-unfriendly as any Phillie. The next warm and fuzzy Pat Burrell story will be his first in Philadelphia.

Hey, I know we’re all supposed to remember the good in players at times like this, when they retire. No, thanks. May 15 will be a great day for him, but not for the many fans who know Pat Burrell for the player and person he really was.

- Angelo Cataldi is the host of 94 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.
Opposing viewpoints are welcome. Send submissions to letters@metro.us.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Masked men robbed armored car in Mayfair, police…

Two masked men made off with more than $100,000 this morning after an armored car heist in Northeast Philadelphia, police said.

International

Putin fields question from NSA fugitive Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor who leaked details of intelligence eavesdropping, asked Russian President Vladimir Putin a question on Thursday during…

Local

Teen in 'Jihad Jane' terror case to be…

A judge on Thursday is set to sentence a high school student who pleaded guilty to helping al Qaeda and working with the woman known as "Jihad Jane."

National

Rapper affiliate of Wu-Tang Clan 'cuts off own…

Rapper Andre Johnson, who has performed with New York outfit the Wu-Tang Clan, is in a critical condition after reportedly cutting off his own penis…

The Word

'Mrs. Doubtfire' sequel in the works

Finally, Hollywood is making your dreams come true - they're making that "Mrs. Doubtfire" sequel you've been clamoring for all these years.

The Word

Lawsuit accuses 'X-Men' director Bryan Singer of raping…

A new lawsuit accuses director Bryan Singer of sexual assault against a minor.

Movies

The Cannes Film Festival announces its 2014 lineup

The lineup of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival was announced this morning, promising the latest from a slew of usual (and some unusual) suspects.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

NHL

Flyers, Rangers meet in playoffs for 11th time

The Flyers and Rangers will start a new chapter in a historic rivalry.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers…

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers and Braves right behind

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.