Columnists, Sports

Dropping the Gloves: Can the Flyers and Bruins compete with their NFL counterparts?

Boston and Philadelphia could not be more different when it comes to sports, other than the fact that they all have NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB teams. Boston fans have been pretty successful in recent years, to say the least. Philly, on the other hand, has not been not so lucky.

The two cities face off this year when the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles head to Minnesota to face off in Super Bowl LII.

When it comes to the NHL teams for each city, they’re not likely to be playing in the Stanley Cup Finals this year. The last time the Flyers and the Bruins made it to the Stanley Cup Finals was in 2010 and 2013, respectively. Coincidentally, both teams lost to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Philadelphia and Boston had been in the playoffs for many years in a row, but each lost its power after losing in the finals.

It’s not sunny in Philadelphia… yet

The Flyers were a feared team. With Claude Giroux, Chris Pronger, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, Philadelphia had the talent, aggression and tenacity that other teams in the league couldn’t seem to master.

Unfortunately for them, they weren’t able to capitalize on that opportunity and win a Stanley Cup before their stars were broken up.

Carter was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets seven months after he signed an 11-year contract extension with the Flyers. Mike Richards was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 2011 and went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2012. Chris Pronger retired after the 2011-12 season. Giroux has been Philadelphia’s captain since 2013.

They’re fifth in the Metropolitan division right now, and a push to the playoffs isn’t necessarily out of the question. But if they do make it, skating past the first round seems unlikely.

The team doesn’t have the playoff abilities that the other Eastern conference teams have. The current lineups in Tampa Bay, Washington, Pittsburgh and even Toronto are better suited to make it deep into the playoffs.

Hiding in the shadow of their professional counterparts

The Bruins actually won a Stanley Cup somewhat recently, but you almost wouldn’t be able to tell if you saw the state of the team today. Seven years ago, they hoisted the Stanley Cup and skated around Rogers Arena in Vancouver when they beat the Canucks.

Since then, they’ve only made it past the first round of the playoffs twice. And in the 2015 and 2016 seasons, they didn’t even make the playoffs.

Luckily for the Bruins, they’ve been able to hide in the shadow of the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics, all who have had very successful seasons in the past five years.

When the focus is on these other teams, the Bruins can be inadequate. But their issues haven’t gone completely unnoticed.  

Zdeno Chara is a giant on the ice and somewhat recreated the aggressive defenseman that the NHL knows today. The only problem is, he’s getting older and the Bruins aren’t prepared for it.

Boston is No. 2 in the Atlantic division right now, and they’re on an 18-game point streak. All hope is not lost for the Bs. However, when it comes to playoff time, don’t expect the Bruins to make it past the first round.

So what’s next?

Both teams have been taking their time in the rebuilding stage of their franchises. Which team will bring the Stanley Cup home first? The Bruins have the edge over the Flyers at the moment. The current lineup has the most experience come playoff time.

If the Eagles win on Sunday, the pressure will definitely be on for the Flyers, Phillies and 76ers. But if the Patriots take home the Lombardi Trophy for the second year in a row, the Bruins can continue to hide the past few years of mediocrity.

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