In Rocky III, a reporter memorably asked Mr. T, who played a boxer named Clubber Lang, about his prediction for the upcoming fight with the Italian Stallion.
"My prediction?" he repeated before staring directly into the camera. "Pain."
Love that line. They ought to give out little awards with Mohawked heads on them for performances like that.
That was my prediction for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals: pain. Pain for the Blackhawks, delivered without compunction by slobbering, screaming, savage Flyers fans at the Wachovia Center.
"The home ice advantage is going to be huge [Wednesday] night," Flyers legend Bernie Parent said before the puck dropped.
He was right - 20,297 fans filled the Wachovia Center. It was the largest hockey crowd in Pennsylvania's history. After the Flyers won, 4-3, thanks to an overtime goal by Claude Giroux, the crowd went home happy - happy and hoarse.
The NHL actually measures arena noise using one of those decibel-meter doohickeys. That's the technical term. According to NHL.com, 125dB is when "pain begins." That's around the time you start shouting "what" every time the person next to you mouths something. Any louder and raspberry jam shoots out of your ears. (That's factually correct. I checked WebMD.)
During Game 2 in Chicago, the loudest the United Center got was 113dB - and that arena had an organist and everything. Blackhawks fans are so delicate.
Flyers fans don't have the same aural sensitivity as Chicagoans. The crowd hit 114dB right after the Kate Smith/Lauren Hart "God Bless America" collaboration concluded. During warm-ups, the fans welcomed each Blackhawks player with the same deafening, familiar Philly greeting (rhymes with pucks). When Danny Briere scored in the first period to give Philly the early lead, it was hard to hear the announcement through the speakers. And after Scott Hartnell's second-period goal was confirmed, the crowd let out a primal roar the way a lion might when he's hungry and there's something close and fresh to kill.
It was the sort of atmosphere that makes people proud to be from Philly. Every hit that smashed one of the Blackhawks into the boards drew a collective yeaaaaah, each shot on Antti Niemi summoned a unified awwwww.
It had been 13 frustrating years since the last time the Flyers played for Lord Stanley's chips-and-dip urn in front of the home crowd, and 23 years since the Flyers won a game in the finals. That's a long time for the locals to hold in all that energy. Wednesday night, they vented. It was the release they waited for, and one they earned.
Jeremy Roenick was careful at first. That didn't last long.
The one-time Blackhawk and Flyer - he now works as a hockey analyst for NBC - said he was torn when two of his former teams reached the Stanley Cup Finals. When asked about the clubs and the cities, he hedged on just about everything.
"Fans, I think they're a little more lenient [in Chicago]," Roenick told the Canadian Press. "Philly, they're going to run you out of town. I think if you go nightlife, Chicago's better. If you're going to go food, I'd say Philly's probably better. Philly's one of the best food cities I've ever been in. Chicago has a little bit nicer people."
None of that was surprising. Most of it followed the expected script. They're nicer, we're tougher, and so on. But what about the ladies?
"Women?" Roenick said. "Chicago has prettier women."
Someone recently told me one of his NBC colleagues said, on air, that Roenick looks like he should be doing cologne commercials. Maybe he can sign a deal with Calvin Klein's Eternity - that's about how long it will be before Philly females forgive him.
Opened the paper recently and saw a disorienting picture. It showed Mayor Nutter wearing an orange Flyers jersey. That wasn't the interesting part. This was: The No. 1 was on the back and "Nutter" was written across the shoulders.
What a revelation. All this time, Philly fans thought goaltender Bernie Parent led the Flyers to back-to-back Cup wins in the mid-1970s. Nope. Turns out the old saying was wrong. Only the Lord saves more than Nutter.
If you think ticket prices for the Stanley Cup Finals here in Philly are steep, it could be worse. According to Stub Hub, the average cost for games at the United Center over the course of the series is $766. The average at the Wachovia Center is $587. . . . If you're a hockey fan on Twitter, check out @Pierre_McGuire. It's a fake account for the NBC hockey analyst. Fake but funny. . . . Page 2 programming note: This week's Ask Gonzo chat on Philly.com was pushed back to Thursday at 1 p.m. due to Wednesday's Stanley Cup Finals game. I look forward to interacting with all seven of you about the Flyers and other matters. Please remember to wear pads and goalie masks - it's a full-contact chat.