PHILADELPHIA – The Bandwagon had been sitting for far too long to be pushed this hard this quick.
You know, it really hadn’t seen the light of day for a couple years. Not since that overtime game-winner against New Jersey in Game 1 of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals was it really chugging on all cylinders.
Driving around on the New Jersey Turnpike those two weeks, it traversed many a pothole and got the alignment all out of whack. We couldn’t fix it in time, lost to the Devils, and put it back in the secret garage located in the heart of Delaware County, where it sat dormant for nearly two years.
So, after building up a lot of steam and taking on a lot of new passengers, it should have been expected that it would need a tune up.
The oil light went on against Los Angeles Monday. We ignored it, and drove it to New York City anyway. Stuck in traffic in the Holland Tunnel the “check engine” light blinked on, and yet we soldiered onward. Finally, the battery died outside Madison Square Garden.
We needed a jump.
Craig Berube brought the cables, though in the form of a complete off day Thursday. It made a big difference.
Because the bandwagon was purring like a kitten back in South Philly Friday night.
That probably was because Berube brilliantly rolled all four of his lines as well as a coach can to generate the kind of energy needed to win a game against a desperate Toronto squad.
Here’s a breakdown of minutes played by the forwards against the Leafs:
Matt Read 19:46
Sean Couturier 19:25
Claude Giroux 16:09
Jake Voracek 15:36
Scott Hartnell 15:33
Michael Raffl 14:54
Adam Hall 14:15
V. Lecavalier 13:32
W. Simmonds 12:03
Zac Rinaldo 11:32
B. Schenn 10:52
Tye McGinn 8:13
The impressive total was that of the fourth line, which again was excellent for the Flyers. Vinny Lecavalier certainly looked more comfortable in the middle. Zac Rinaldo drew two more penalties (he has now drawn 25 this season), was tied for the team lead in hits with five and picked up the primary assist on Wayne Simmonds insurance goal. Meanwhile, Adam Hall was Adam Hall – doing what Adam Hall does well.
When Berube is able to manage those forward minutes that way, it makes the Flyers that much harder to play against.
And now they are just nine points away from that target point total of 94 points – no team to earn 94 points or more has ever missed the playoffs – so with nine games to go, a .500 record should do it.
As for the Bandwagon, well, it doesn’t find 500 acceptable unless it’s cruising in Indianapolis or Daytona. Those are the speeds at which the Bandwagon likes to travel, so the grease monkeys are going to check all the engine parts one more time before getting back on the streets with the Bruins in town in front of a national audience Sunday afternoon.
But before it does, there are more people hopping on board:
Welcome to Stefanie Mondschein, Erik Dezzi, Jonathan DiRienzi, Bruce Hoffman, Amanda Baker, Michelle Swanson, Noah Carlyle and Darren Squilla.
Bringing an international flavor are Henri Riihimaki, who brought a travelling party from Finland to watch Kimmo Timonen and their favorite hockey team tonight. As well as Ryan Ingerick, who may be the most loyal of fans, staying up most nights til the wee hours in England to watch the games in their entirety.
And finally, we can’t forget Gabby Carrier, our former public relations intern at the Flyers who is back at school in college in rural Georgia. A southern belle with a winning smile, she says she’s a Flyers fan for life now after working here and she will never abandon the bandwagon.
Yep, we have that effect on people. Thanks for getting on board to begin with Gabby. Can’t imagine taking this trip without you.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers
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