In mixed martial arts, when a fighter is “rocked” it means they have taken a hard blow to the head from the opposing fighter and become temporarily dazed, bobbing in an out of consciousness for a few moments. More times than not that brief loss of cognizance allows the opposition to pounce on his woozy victim, finishing the fight.
When the Philadelphia Flyers entered the ring against the Pittsburgh Penguins for the championship of the Eastern Conference, they were riding high with confidence, ready to face an all-to-familer foe with surprise and strategy taking a back burner to hard work and execution. But even before the match got started, the Flyers were rocked by the news that their best player, the cornerstone of everything they do – would be missing the series due to a freak injury.
The entire Flyers’ fanbase cringed at the news with even the Flyers’ future captain Mike Richards acknowledging how stunned the team was to hear about the shocking loss.
As much as the players and coaches mouthed that the loss of Kimmo Timonen was not at fault for a game one loss, it was apparent it was. The frazzled Flyers never looked fully confident in their ability to play mistake-free hockey without Kimmo in the lineup.
The Flyers violently struggled to recover their poise for game two and having done just enough to regain their feet, were rocked once more, when a freak accident took out another cornerstone player, Braydon Coburn.
But despite their attempts to recover from two serious blows, the Flyers could not overcome the play of the chosen Penguins, who simply took full advantage of the Flyers’ suffering. And even then the Flyers continued to fight, giving it all they had, flossing their character but coming up just short.
What the Flyers should remember is what any MMA coach would tell his fighter after an unfortunate knockout — that no one in the world can teach better than experience.
As game four approaches and inevitable elimination from a wonderful season is thrust upon the Flyers. The team that regained the title of meanest organization in all of sports should not go gentle into that good night. The Flyers should go out the way they came into the 2007-08 season, with bloody lips and bodies strewn all over the ice.
As Dylan Thomas wrote…
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
If the Flyers rage the end of their season through providing a broken bone and pint of blood for every loss they suffered at the hands of their rival, there will not be an unsatisfied face in the entire Wachovia Center crowd, who’s love of a good fight and mean spirited effort, trumps their hatred of losing by a long shot- and that’s exactly what the Flyers have given this season.