The Flyers have made it a rule throughout to go against the book on their way to improbably winning the conference championship this season. After all, champs simply aren’t supposed to need a shootout the last game of the regular season to qualify for the playoffs, then stage an unprecedented 3-0 comeback to advance to Round 3.
And they’re not supposed to play musical goalies — with Ray Emery, Brian Boucher and finally Michael Leighton.
So, it was completely logical when Flyers captain Mike Richards defied tradition and embraced the Prince of Wales Trophy as time expired, rather than refusing to touch it.
“We haven’t done anything conventional all year,” said Richards. “Why go against the grain now? It’s not the trophy we want, but it took a lot for us to get here, so I wanted to grab it.”
That leaves them four wins from hockey’s holy grail — the Stanley Cup — which gets under way Saturday night in Chicago.
“From the time we beat the Rangers in a shootout we understood we had an opportunity,” said Chris Pronger. “At first, it wasn’t pretty, but now that we’ve figured it out, we’re clicking on all cylinders.”
Still, there’s work to be done.
“My goal in life is not winning this,” said Leighton. “I’m happy, but winning the next one will be the one that excites me.”
“This is what we’ve worked for,” said Carter, who arrived with Richards five years ago. “There’s been a lot of ups and downs and it’s taken a long time. We have a group of guys in that room that no matter what happens, they never give up. I think we’ve seen that come to the forefront in these playoffs here.
It’s a pretty amazing thing to be a part of.”