Mike Richards' Amazing Short-Handed Goal Propels Flyers To Finals, Likeability

Sports fans have a tendency to project their likes and dislikes for certain cities, or in this case certain fan bases, onto professional athletes who play there. After the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Montreal Canadiens in five games to secure a trip to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 13 years, the anti-Flyers hatred came pouring in online. If you don't believe me, check out the Twitter feed for Philly blogger Tug Haines, who gets a kick out of retweeting all the vitriol aimed at Philadelphia after their sports teams beat certain opponents. This time, with it being the Stanley Cup finals, there isn't just one fan base slinging insults at those in Philly – it's 29 of them. ↵

↵Now, I'm as big a homer as anyone, but I'll be the first to admit that Philly has had more than its fair share of boorish behavior from fans. Without turning this into a philosophical sports discussion about die-hardness or debating some profound cosmic formula for who "deserves" to see their favorite team win, let's just say that after years and years of losing, Philly fans are on a pretty good run the last few years. And they're enjoying it. Should the hockey Gods be pulling for Chicago in the finals? If you're talking about which fan base is in greater need of a pick-me-up, of course the hockey Gods will be pulling for the Blackhawks. ↵

↵

↵Having said that, fans in other cities should stop short of projecting their hatred of Philly fans onto the Flyers players. This team, led by Mike Richards, is a likeable team to watch. This video is the game-tying goal in the first period of Monday's clincher. If you can't root for this kind of hockey, you probably don't like hockey. ↵

↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵

↵It's not just Richards, either. This Flyers team has an incredible story. Needing to win a shootout on the last day of the season to even get in the playoffs, the Flyers upset the second-seeded Devils before going down 3-0 to the Bruins. They didn't just scratch and claw their way back into that series, they did it with a goaltender who hadn't played in months, having just come back from injury before getting thrust into the game while replacing another injured netminder. The Flyers have overcome more injuries than they can count, especially in the playoffs. Simon Gagne missed several games before coming back in the Boston series to propel the Flyers into the conference finals. In this latest round, it was Jeff Carter who returned from his own injuries to score two goals in the series clincher. ↵

↵

↵Of course nothing was scarier – and nobody easier to root for – than Ian Laperriere, who returned to the lineup after taking a puck in the head while blocking a shot that caused a brain contusion. Where was Laperriere last night? Back on the deck blocking shots. ↵

↵

↵So, while its totally understandable that most of the country will be rooting against the Flyers in the Stanley Cup finals, it's okay to admit that their players are actually a likeable bunch. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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