Despite the never-ending tests and prescriptions and bills, the best remedy has been a simple one that my mother might have recommended for free: a bland diet of chicken and rice. Helps a weak stomach every time. Before the NHL playoffs start Thursday evening, Flyers fans might want to cook up a batch.
Considering all the questions and concerns surrounding the team, it seems like things have gotten pretty gut-wrenching for local hockey heads. You have to wonder if they're up for the postseason.
If Philly is a more positive place since the drought ended in 2008, that vibe hasn't always been exuded by Flyers fans. Sure, things were swell at the beginning of the season when the Orange & Black were winning games with ease. Back then, it was all championship this and parade that. No longer. The natives I've talked to or heard whining on the radio lately almost all sound like they're waiting for the other skate to drop and end the season, along with their misery.
One of my buddies - a devoted Flyers fan with season tickets that I believe were given to him by his father while he was still in the womb - practically melted down when I asked what he thought about the team's chances to beat Buffalo or advance deep into the postseason. In between the sobbing and head scratching, he managed to hedge his prediction: "If [Chris] Pronger comes back, I like their chances to go to the Finals . . . without him, they lose in the first round."
Pronger might as well be the security blanket Flyers fans drag around with them. His nickname should be "woobie." That doesn't mean Pronger's health and possible rust aren't real concerns. They are - and so is the goalie situation. Flyers fans love fretting over that one, don't they? The perennial goalie dilemma was made even more amusing this year when Sergei Bobrovsky changed the paint job/theme of his helmet. One frantic reader sent me a panicked e-mail about how Bob shouldn't have done that so close to the playoffs. Apparently it's bad luck, and the superstitious fellow was pretty upset about it. I wonder how many Xanax he had to pop to steady his fingers and hit send.
Shouldn't Flyers fans be used to all the uncertainty and anxiety? Doesn't this happen every year around this time? They should have a support group set up by now, or at least a handy 1-800 number they can call from whichever bridge they perch on each April.
But you're a Flyers fan, and you have reason to be worried, right? The Flyers looked lost toward the end of the season and won just eight of their last 21 games. I know all about it. But you know what? These things happen. In fact, these things happened as recently as last year. You remember last year - unexpected trip to the Stanley Cup finals and all that. Before the Flyers scheduled their summer visit to Chicago, and before they made the playoffs by the slimmest of margins, they also struggled. In their final 21 games last season - and stop me if this sounds familiar - they won just seven times.
It's possible you're still sweating it, though. Maybe that has something to do with the national pundits. Only two of ESPN's eight experts picked the Flyers to get past the Sabres. (It's 3 of 8 if you count Barry Melrose's hair; he and his coif always vote the same way.) The outlook is only slightly better on NHL.com: Three of its seven staffers went with Philly. Some guy on Bleacher Report also went with the Flyers, but that probably doesn't make you feel any better since the scribblers on that site are mainly half-humans who, I suspect, escaped from a secret underground lab after a horrible government experiment went wrong.
But, hey, not all the forecasts are grim. You might be excited to learn that about 60 percent of random Americans participating in an ESPN.com poll picked the Flyers to get out of the first round. If Bubba from Biloxi doesn't know hockey, who does? Even better: According to Bodog.com, the Flyers are still listed at 8/1 to win it all. Only the Canucks, Capitals and Sharks have better odds.
Hang in there, Flyers fans. It's going to be OK. Maybe. And if you feel like throwing up, go ahead and let it rip. It will blend in with all that orange.
Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gonzophilly