Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Puzzling Playoff Sloganeering

Just one question from yesterday’s Game 3: What’s with that clever little slogan emblazoned across thousands of garishly orange shirts: Vengeance Now? Uh, what? Vengeance on whom? Dale Hunter, for that Game 7 overtime business twenty years ago? Bobby Clarke, for his three-draft-picks-to-rent-Adam-Oates trade? Do the members of the Flyers’ marketing department and those thousands of lemming fans know what vengeance means? Not that Rock the Red is any kind of profound poetic prose, but this just doesn’t make sense. Who knows, maybe I’m stupid and this really is a brilliant way to bring out the latent rage hiding just underneath the surface of every Philadelphian. Whip up a phrase that sounds angry, slap it on a t-shirt and BAM: instant raucousness.

On the other hand, Vengeance Now might be an apt slogan for a first-round NBA series.

One other note on the Philly Phaithful: they sure do posture a lot and laud the physical and goony play of their team of physical goons (and Danny Briere), but they truly are famously outrageous complainers when it’s doled out in the other direction. A run on Cristobal Huet is greeted with approving roars, as is a Mike Richards’ open-ice hit on Nicklas Backstrom. But brush by Martin Biron? Dare to throw a check at the aforementioned Richards? COMPLETE (noisy) INDIGNATION. Where’s the penalty??!!

There were some (perhaps subtle) signs that the Caps are slowly waking up to the nature of the Flyers and what it will take to beat them. With about ten minutes left in the second period, Huet stopped a shot from the high slot and a pair of Flyers steamed forward for the requisite bump/punch combo. Mike Green and John Erskine quickly formed a wall in front of Huet to push back the hit squad. Huet himself finally threw a shot at Briere, who responded with his traditional back-of-the-head-punch-and-skate-away-as-quickly-as-my-wee-legs-will-carry-me scheme. Finally, Brooks Laich made the ultimate goalie-running prevention move by burying Kimmo Timonen into the net as the Flyers' defenseman was preparing his own assault on Huet.

Let’s not lend credence to this burgeoning-and-false idea that the Caps are a bandwagon team by jumping ship. Let’s not be like Typical Flyers Fan, who likely would be calling for the head of a coach if their team been outplayed early in a first-round series. The Caps are just down one game, a measly 2-1. It’s not all that unlike being 6-14 on Thanksgiving Day, wallowing in last place in the East, then making a spirited four-and-a-half month run to the playoffs. Hmm, that run started in Philadelphia didn’t it? Interesting. In any case, Game 4 does loom as something of a must-win. Hmm, a must-win. Kind of like every game the Caps played from mid-March on, and that turned out just fine. Rock the red vengeance now.

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