IN THE CALM before the Game 7 storm last night at the Wells Fargo Center, Broad Street Bully gazed out at the ice and wondered, "Will the crowd be roaring, 'Booosh!' or 'Booo!'?"
By the second period, he realized that it would be "Booosh!" all the way.
Brian Boucher made 26 saves on 28 shots last night as the Flyers beat the Buffalo Sabres, 5-2, to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
"The floodgates finally opened," said relieved and happy lifelong die-hard Mike Greenspun, 50, of Cherry Hill. "Isn't it amazing that in the span of just seven games, I now hate Buffalo?
"Not the Rangers or the Penguins or the Devils. I hate Buffalo! That's what makes hockey such a great game - raw emotion."
Greenspun, who has had season tickets in Section 102 since 1986, remembers "living and dying with the championship Flyers teams" of his 1970s childhood, when springtimes were simultaneously hockey playoffs and Passover.
"We would negotiate with my mom about having the TV on - no sound - and in view during the Passover seder," Greenspun said. "We usually lost."
So there were nights, he said, "when we were having dinner - with 25 people over for the holiday - and I would have an old transistor radio in my pants pocket with the old-fashioned earphone's wire running from the radio, up under my shirt, out the collar and into my ear.
"I would sit so that my mom wouldn't have a view of that ear, and I would lean on my elbow with my hand covering it throughout the holiday meal.
"One time, I screamed, 'They scored!' right in the middle of dinner, raising my arms triumphantly. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were dumbfounded."
Last night, he celebrated the end of Passover . . . and the end of the Sabres' pestering the Flyers.
He was only one of the 19,966 die-hards jammed into the Wells Fargo Center to watch the do-or-die Game 7.
Despite the Flyers' game-long dominance, "I had a pit in my stomach all game long," said Becky Dobson, 21, of Lafayette Hill, who body-painted her little brother Mark, 10, in a terrific full-torso replica of a Boucher jersey. She also painted his pal, Jan Olenjinski, 8, in a Danny Briere jersey.
"I decided face-painting wasn't enough," said Becky, who played hockey with the Germantown Academy boys team and now plays for West Chester University.
Asked what the Flyers win meant, Mark said, "It means everything to me."
His pal Jan let his smile be his answer.
Pat and Teresa Smart, of Glenolden, were overjoyed. The longtime die-hards said that they have a personal connection with Briere, who scored his sixth goal of the series last night and had an assist.
"I bumped into Danny Briere in a Wawa," Pat said, "and we were talking hockey so much that I finally had to say, 'I gotta go now, Danny.' That's the kind of guy he is."
Teresa said that Briere tapped his stick on the glass and winked at the couple when the Flyers came out for the second period.