PHILADELPHIA – In the home of fictional fighter Rocky Balboa, it's fitting that the best quality of this Philadelphia Flyers team is its ability to pick itself off the mat and keep on fighting.
From firing their coach in early December to sitting 14th in the Eastern Conference at Christmas, to needing a final-day shootout victory to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, to falling behind 0-3 in the conference semifinals to the Boston Bruins, the Flyers have kept fighting and fighting and fighting.
And to a man, the players and coach feel the depth of that well of resolve still runs deeper.
"For sure," defenseman Braydon Coburn said. "I think when you get to this time of year, you always find that little bit extra. This is the time of the year that somehow, someway you have to find a way. There's always a little extra in the tank."
"It's the Stanley Cup Final," forward Ian Laperriere added. "If we don't have anything left at this time we're in trouble. We wouldn't be this far if we didn't have that in us."
For this up-and-down Flyers squad, it's almost fitting they have their backs to the wall one more time. Counting the win-or-go-golfing Game 82 against the New York Rangers, this will be the sixth time the Flyers have faced the end of their season.
"It's kind of where our season has been," defenseman Matt Carle said. "We've been faced with some tough times. If we're going to win this series, this is how we'd do it. Being down 3-2 in our building, we have a great opportunity to try to force a Game 7 and play for a Stanley Cup."
"I think like it says right there," Coburn said, gesturing to a sign above the dressing room door, 'The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.' It's not an easy feat at hand, but we've got to take care of one game. Tonight's the task at hand. Everybody is ready to go."
One advantage the Flyers plan on using is their boisterous home crowd. They're 9-1 at the Wachovia Center this postseason with seven-straight wins, including Games 3 and 4 against the Blackhawks.
"We got off to a great start in the last home game," Laperriere said. "It's a homer series and hopefully it'll keep going. … I expect our fans to be as crazy as they've been all year."
Those fans have come to expect their team to get up after every knockdown, and so have the players.
"It's one more challenge to our story this year," Laperriere said. "It's one more challenge and I'm 100-percent sure that everybody is ready for that challenge. It's our biggest challenge."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org