Hockey players are a superstitious bunch. Tradition has it that the winning team's captain poses for pictures with the conference trophy but doesn't touch it for fear of jinxing the team's chances of winning the ultimate prize: Lord Stanley's Cup.

But after the Flyers clinched the Eastern Conference championship on Monday night, captain Mike Richards grabbed the Prince of Wales trophy and skated off the ice. The Flyers have defied the hockey gods all season, so why bow to tradition now?

This is a hockey team that has churned through seven goaltenders and two coaches. The Flyers barely made the playoffs, needing to win the last game of the season in a shootout. The team then overcame a 3-0 series deficit, and was behind 3-0 before winning game seven against the Boston Bruins.

Like the city and its fans, this is a Flyers team with lots of heart and guts. Two players - Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter - returned to the ice just weeks after each broke his foot. Ian Laperriere has taken two pucks to the face this season, requiring dozens of stitches to repair.

Touch wood, the Flyers are four wins from a parade down Broad Street. The way this season is going, it seems the hockey gods are flashing a young Bobby Clarke gap-toothed smile on the Flyers.