About the time Duncan Keith did his best Leon Durham impersonation in the final minute of the Blackhawks' 5-3 loss last night, I turned to the select group of people fortunate enough to watch the game with me and said, "That's it. They're done. Philly will win the next two games."
It was the usual knee-jerk reaction from seasoned Chicago fans. If you're not familiar with it, think about how you felt around the time Rex Grossman threw his second interception of Super Bowl XLI, or your first reaction to the infamous "Bartman Incident".
As I've wandered aimlessly through the world wide web today, searching for any glimmer of hope in the idea of the Blackhawks still winning this thing, I've come across a ridiculous number of articles, posts, and stories that have all but eliminated the Hawks from Stanley Cup contention. The newspapers in Philadelphia are littered with Flyers pride. The national media has seemingly formed an obsession with the Flyers' "Defying all odds" rally cry. Chris Pronger's cheating is now considered to be the deadliest weapon in the entire NHL, and "paper mache float" is the hottest term searched on Google in Pennsylvania.
Of all the deflating material that I encountered on my hunt for hope, the most disturbing bit of information came in the simplest of forms. It was a poll from Chicago's very own Tribune Sports website. The poll asked readers, point blank, how this series would end. Though a bit jaded from last night's defeat, I voted for "Hawks in 6". As I highlighted the little dot that indicates my vote, the results soon populated, and as quickly as the graphical resulting lines populated, my spirit deflated.
"Flyers in 6" -- that was the leading response. Go ahead, check it now.
Flyers in 6?!?!? Seriously?
Now, as I stated before, I too was quick to dismiss all hope once Jeff Carter (over-emphatically) put the puck into the Hawks' net to seal the Flyers' 5-3 win last night, but NEVER would I publicly state nor actually believe the Hawks are finished in this series.
Since when does a 2-2 tie in a best-of-seven series suddenly swing so heavily to one side that a team's own fans begin to nosedive off the bandwagon? I'm sure similar polls in Philadelphia have had the Flyers winning in four games, even after their beloved team's first two losses. Does that make Philadelphia fans ignorant? Of course it does. But it also exemplifies a fan base that is truly worthy of the highest prize.
Somewhere in time, this city has gone from having the blind faith that every single moron at Wachovia Center dressed in orange has, to a city that foresees failure, expects failure, and then just boos a lot.
Think back to 1997. I know it's been awhile. To refresh your memory, the Chicago Bulls were competing for their second-consecutive NBA Championship (number 5 to be exact). They stormed out to 2-0 lead in their Finals series with the Utah Jazz.
For those of you that don't remember, the Jazz went on to beat the Bulls in the following two games, with their first win being a blowout by all conventional playoff standards.
Did anyone really believe that Karl Malone and John Stockton would be kissing the Larry O'Brien Trophy a mere four days later?
Of course not. We took it as a declaration of war. We looked upon the Jazz faithful as the enemy, and there was no way they were going to take what was rightfully ours.
The result -- Bulls win the next two. Series over. Trophy goes to parade in Chicago.
The goal of this post isn't to serve as a rallying cry. I'm not trying to get anyone to go out and vandalize the Liberty Bell. I'm not asking for a hit to be placed on Chris Pronger, and by all means orange is still an acceptable color for casual wardrobe.
What I am simply stating is that OUR Chicago Blackhawks are not deserving of our reservations. For a team that has skated through most of the NHL Playoffs, not losing more than two games in any series, they deserve more.
Granted, there have been monumental letdowns supplied by the Bears, Bulls, and of course Cubs over the last however-many years, but this Blackhawks team doesn't deserve to be the outlet of our futility. There is too much tradition and too much rejuvenated pride in this team to let it all go to waste, simply because we're still bitter about Bartman or irritated the whole Cutler thing didn't send us to the Super Bowl immediately.
What do you think our less-educated rivals in Philadelphia are doing right now?
If you said, "Calling sports talk radio shows to voice their predictions for the next two Flyers' wins while brainstorming anti-Blackhawk signs that somehow can utilize phrases like "Yo, Adrian...", "Cut me, Mick!", and "Eye of the tiger"", you're absolutely correct.
If you said, "Wetting themselves at the notion of their beloved Flyers mimicking a real-life "Rocky" be "defying all odds"", you're also right.
And what are we, the fans of the better team, doing?