(Philadelphia, PA) - One more victory against the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers will earn the eighth Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history.
And unlike the previous two playoff rounds, when they closed out their opponent on the road, the Flyers would like nothing more than to finish off the Canadiens in five games with a victory in front of what is sure to be a loud and boisterous crowd at Wachovia Center.
The Flyers and Canadiens will face-off on Monday in Game 5 at 7 p.m. ET (VERSUS, CBC, RDS).
|Philadelphia Flyers' Mike Richards crashes into the Montreal Canadiens net as Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak looks on during third period of Game 4 of the NHL Eastern Conference finals Saturday, May 22, 2010, in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz) |
If the Flyers clinch a Stanley Cup Final berth on home ice, it would mark the fifth time they would have done so. The Flyers eliminated the New York Rangers (4-3) at home in the Stanley Cup Semifinals in 1974, the Islanders (4-1) in '75, the Quebec Nordiques in '85 and the Rangers again in '97.
"It'd be nice (to close it out at home) because the fans deserve it for sticking behind us through the whirlwind of a season we just had," Flyers captain Mike Richards said. "It'd be nice to play well enough (Monday) to wrap it up and get that last win to move on. Obviously, Montreal is not a place we want to go back to, but at the same time we know we're going to have to play extremely well to do so and have a start like we did (in Game 4)."
Danny Briere, who is tied with Richards for the team lead with 18 points, expects an electric atmosphere Monday.
"I expect the crowd to be pretty wild," he said. "Knowing the situation that we're in, it's been a while since the Flyers have been in this position. So I expect the fans to help us in that department, definitely."
Briere is also looking forward to another stirring rendition of "God Bless America" given by Lauren Hart.
"It's mostly the atmosphere that (God Bless America) builds inside the building," Briere said. "How crazy the fans get and that energy that we're able to build off of is amazing. It's so much fun to see the crowd go nuts like that and to start screaming. You have chills everywhere on your body. There's no better feeling to start a game."
Flyers forward Ian Laperriere knows the Flyers will need to play their best game against a desperate Montreal team.
For Laperriere, taking the ice in front of the hometown crowd is going to be something special. It was a little over two weeks ago during a second-period stoppage in Game 3 against the Boston Bruins when Laperriere, dressed in civilian clothes and whose season was in doubt, received a standing ovation.
He'll be making his first start at Wachovia Center since that memorable moment. Laperriere missed nine playoff games with a brain contusion after taking a shot to the face in Game 5 against the New Jersey Devils on April 22.
"It was kind of neat and something I'll remember for the rest of my life," Laperriere said. "When they told me I'd have a chance to come back, I thought it would be nice to play in front of our fans at this time of the year with the crowd going nuts. It's been driving me crazy just watching from the press box and watching the games and knowing I couldn't be out there because of my injury. When that great news happened, I was just happy knowing I'd have another chance in front of our fans."
Richards is grateful for the tremendous support he and his teammates have received.
"I think (great support) comes with winning," Richards said. "Just walking down the street in Old City, different people come up to you, people you wouldn't expect were hockey fans. When I'm sitting in a restaurant … I'm not paying for a whole lot of meals right now, it's nice to see the support by the city and how everyone is behind you. The words of motivation and good luck are nice. Especially in Philadelphia, where they're not shy about voicing their opinion."