Bill Simmons has a theory that teams with histories of futility of one kind or another sometimes require an utterly improbable set of circumstances to unfold in order to break through and overcome the history weighing down the franchise and its fans. The ultimate example for him of course was the Red Sox coming back with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera, trailing three games to none in the 2004 World Series, to win that game and then go on to sweep the Yankees in the remaining games to break their curse and when the championship.
The Philadelphia Flyers don't have the baggage the Red Sox did, but it's been 35 years or so since they've won a Stanley Cup, and since then they've suffered a number of heartbreaking playoff defeats. And of course they're in Philadelphia, which until the Phillies won the World Series in 2008 went through perhaps the longest dry spell for championships for any city with franchises in all four major sports.
The Flyers are now tied 2-2 in the finals with the Chicago Blackhawks. If they are fortunate enough to go on and win the cup, their run will certainly meet Simmons' criteria. After struggling throughout the season, the Flyers needed a post-overtime shootout to even qualify for the playoffs. In the second round, they went down three games to none against the Boston Bruins, then rattled off three straight victories to tie the series. In Game 7 in Boston, they fell behind 3-0 in the first period before rallying to win the game 4-3.
The play above in the deciding Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Montreal kind of symbolizes the combination of skill and grit the team has shown during its playoff run. What's great about the goal by Richards, as a sidenote, is the escalating roar by the crowd. It's rare to see these types of slow-developing plays in hockey where the crowd goes from "something exciting is happening!" to "something really exciting is happening!" to "something AWESOME just happened!"
The good news is the Sixers are likely to get Evan Turner in the draft. He could be a franchise saver at this point. The bad news is they went ahead and hired Doug Collins. I'm trying to talk myself into it, but haven't been entirely successful. What's weird is how little criticism there's been from writers for the Inquirer and Daily News on the Sixers hiring a tightly wound guy with thin skin and a .536 winning percentage in 619 career games who's been fired by three teams.