It's been 10 years since the Flyers have faced the Habs in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A lot has changed in those 10 years. Actually, aside from Giroux and a pre-Toronto JvR, the entire organization has changed over those 10 years here in Philadelphia. New owner (RIP Mr. Snider), new GM, new head coach, new franchise goaltender, new Kevin Hayes, pretty much a new everything. But another thing that hasn't been the same over those 10 years is that the Flyers have never been back to the same situation Mike Richards had this Flyers team in back on May 24, 2010.
Eastern Conference Final. Game 5. Up 3-1 in the series with a chance to close it out on home ice. The Habs already got on the board early in this one and had a chance to gain even more momentum with an early powerplay just a couple minutes later. But then Mike Richards announced himself as the Alpha on the ice and killed any hope and/or dream the Montreal Canadiens would ever have of winning their first Cup since 1993 with one single shift.
First he bulldozes the shit out of Marc-Andre Bergeron at the blueline to get a clear on the penalty kill which leads to a chance the other way. Bully mode fully activated right there.
Then he backchecks his dick off to break up the counter rush Montreal thought they had going, which leads to a loose puck in the Flyers' corner, which then leads to Claude Giroux saucing out the perfect clear/breakout pass which leads to this…
Richie hustles his fucking balls off, beats Halak and Hamrlik to the loose puck, they bulldoze the shit out of each other, Richie rises from the ashes and stuffs home the shorthanded empty netter. You knew it was game over the moment he tucked that one in. Alpha. Alpha. Alpha.
And in 12 hours, the boys get to do it all over again. Flyers vs Habs. Game 1. 8pm ET (as long as the Caps and Islanders don't go to 5OT). Sure, the teams are completely different and the world is completely different this time around. But I feel Mike Richards in the air right now. That shift was Hard Dick Hockey and this team plays Hard Dick Hockey. Anytime. Anywhere.