Eight years ago today, there was no doubt in my mind the game I was watching would emerge as another chapter in Philadelphia sports history.
The contest in question was Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Flyers were in the midst of a miracle postseason run, which commenced when they punched their playoff ticket on the last day of the regular season with a shootout victory over the New York Rangers. After dispatching the New Jersey Devils in 5 games, the Orange and Black overcame a 3-0 series deficit to knock off the Boston Bruins in 7 games. Peter Laviolette’s squad skated past the upstart Montreal Canadiens in five games (never forget the shift), leaving the Blackhawks as the only team standing between the Flyers and the Cup.
It wasn’t meant to be on that night or in that series for the Flyers. But something special was brewing on a baseball diamond in Miami.
Roy Halladay, the Phillies’ prize acquisition of the offseason, was on the mound facing the Florida Marlins. The Marlins countered with Josh Johnson, a righthanded flamethrower whom the Phillies never seemed to hit. It was likely to be a low-scoring pitcher’s duel, but otherwise a nondescript baseball game in May. When the alternative is a Stanley Cup game featuring the hometown Flyers, there wasn’t much of a decision in terms of what to watch.
That calculus changed at some point during the first or second intermission, when it became clear that the Phillies’ ace had a chance at perfection. Philadelphia’s regulars had spotted Halladay a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the 3rd, and that’s all he would need: