My Top Five Favorite Flyers Moments

Simon Gagne scores the winning goal against the Bruins in Game 7 of the Flyers historic come from behind series victoryHere we are, sitting through another day without Flyers hockey. It has gotten to a point now where even the most loyal and passionate Flyers fan has lost interest in the entire lockout process. Flyer fans just want to move on from this and drop the puck. You know what though? Instead of focusing on a lockout that has potentially ruined the NHL for good, let’s focus on the good times. Let take a trip down memory lane. I present to you, my personal top five favorite Flyers moments.

#5: Flyers vs. New York Rangers – Preseason Game – September 20th, 2001

September 11th haunts me. Even though I never personally knew anyone affected by it, seeing the images of that day still fill me with anger and sadness. My father, who up until 9/11 never really showed much emotion, left an impression on me that day. I never saw his eyes like the way I saw them that night when he arrived home from work. The anger he had for what happened filled me with the same feeling that is still with me. We both needed an escape. My dad surprised me with tickets to the Flyers preseason game against the Rangers, so naturally I was very excited to go, being 13 and all. Going to a Flyers game with my dad is always great and the game was actually pretty exciting, with the score being 2-2 going into the third period.

During the second intermission, the First Union Center staff displayed President George W. Bush’s speech to the nation on the big screen. The speech was cut off going into the third period, and the big screen then said that the speech could be viewed on the concourse. However, in a moment I’ll never forget, Flyer fans started screaming “Leave it on, leave it on!” So, they did in fact leave it on. The players watched from the ice as my father, with his hand around my shoulder, watched it with me. After the speech was over, the player went to center ice and shook hands, all while a deafening cheer of “USA, USA” was screamed. It’s a moment I will never, ever forget.

#4: Flyers vs. New York Rangers – Game 5, 1997 Eastern Conference Final – May 25th, 1997

I was only 9 years old, but this was my first full memory I remember of Flyers playoff hockey. At this age, I started playing the game of hockey and understood all of it. I remember watching every game during that incredible playoff run with my mom and my dad. That entire season was a buildup this point, because the Flyers, with their star captain Eric Lindros, were ready to bring Lord Stanley back to Broad Street. My aunt Traci, a die-hard Philadelphia sports/Flyers fan was over for the game and we all were incredibly excited to see the Flyers advance the Stanley Cup Finals. The Corestates Center was rocking as usual. The game was dominated by the Flyers early, with Rangers goalie Mike Richter making several huge stops to keep the Flyers at bay. However, it was only a matter of time before the Flyers scored and the Big E, Eric Lindros contributed another goal, on the power play, to his amazing 26 point playoff performance.

The game, like the series was back and forth, with the Rangers scoring two straight goals to take a 2-1 lead. Lead John LeClair tied it and made it a 2-2 game. However, the game officially changed with an incredible “Claude Giroux, Game 7” like shift from Mikael Renberg and John Druce in which amazing hard work and forechecking resulted in a Rangers penalty. The Flyers would score on that power play and never look back. They had won the Eastern Conference and moved on the Stanley Cup Finals. Philadelphia was ready and so was my aunt Traci, who was dancing and singing “We’re going to the Stanley Cup, we’re going to the Stanley Cup!!!” Of course the Cup Final did not go as planned, but that game was a memory that I will last forever.

#3: Flyers vs. Montreal Canadians – Game 5, 2010 Eastern Conference Final – May 24th, 2010

It’s a game that every Flyers fan will remember with two words: “The Shift”. Former Flyer Mike Richards was the captain of a Flyers team that made the playoffs after a winning a shootout against the New York Rangers and the team barley made into the playoffs as a seven seed. After taking out Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils, the Flyers did the impossible with beating Boston in seven games (which I will obviously touch on later in this list). The Flyers then played Montreal in the Eastern Conference Finals. Many wondered how the Flyers would play, considering the amazing comeback against Boston. Would they be so emotionally drained from that series? Quite the opposite in fact. The Flyers would carry all momentum into the Conference Finals and dominate the Canadians in five games.

However, Game 5 was something that no Flyers fan will ever forget, mostly because of captain Mike Richards and his incredible shorthanded shift. Richards played like a man processed, scoring a goal that I consider a top 5 in Flyers history. The sheer determination and will that Richards showed took every ounce of life from the Canadians. The Flyers finished off the Canadians with an empty net goal from Jeff Carter and the city celebrated with a team that had forever captured the hearts of Philadelphia, no matter what happened in the final round.

#2: Flyers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning – Game 6, Eastern Conference Final – May 20th, 2004

The 2009-2010 Flyers gave us amazing memories, but the 2003-2004 Flyers was the first team I fell completely in love with. A team that had a perfect balance of veteran leaders such as Keith Primeau, Jeremy Roenick, John LeClair, Mark Recchi and Eric Desjardins along with young talent such as Simon Gagne and Justin Williams. The legend of Keith Primeau was also born that year as he became a Flyers icon. The Flyers had such a hardworking and determined team lead by coach Ken Hitchcock, which prided itself on outworking teams and grinding them down to nothing. This team wasn’t supposed to get as far as they did and we all were on the rollercoaster ride of a lifetime. After finally beating the New Jersey in a playoff series and eventually beating the Toronto Maple Leafs with an incredible OT goal from Jeremy Roenick, the Flyers went on to play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The series was the very definition of back and forth. After splitting the first four games, the Flyers lost game five in Tampa 4-2, forcing an elimination game for the Flyers in South Philadelphia. Game six did now start well for the Flyers with, with Vincent Lecavalier scoring just 1:28 into the first period. The Flyers would get it back almost right away with the superhuman Keith Primeau, but from then on, the game was exactly like the series, back and forth. The Flyers were down 4-3 with two minutes to go in third period, when Keith Primeau yet again tied. Eventually, the game went into overtime, when Simon Gagne took a feed from Primeau and buried it to put the Flyers in a game seven with at Tampa. The Flyers lost game seven, but this team stole my heart and ran with it. They will be my favorite Flyers team for a long time.

#1: Flyers vs. Boston Bruins – Game 7, Eastern Conference Semi-Finals – May 14th, 2010

Was there ever a doubt that this moment would be number one? It’s the greatest comeback in Philadelphia sports history and it’s the greatest hockey game I ever witnessed. These moments don’t happen in Philadelphia sports. We don’t come back from 3-0 deficits, because it just doesn’t work that way. This time it was different.

I’ll never forget watching game 3 against Boston with my uncle John. After the Flyers lost, he said “you know what, they’re coming back and winning this series.” I didn’t believe him and you know what? I think he didn’t believe himself. However, we continued to watch and every Flyers win in that series was making us more and more aware of how special this series was.

Somehow, the Flyers got to game 7 and in typical Flyers fashion, they went down 3-0 in the first period. After the third Bruins goal, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette called the timeout that will live in Flyers lure forever. After that, the Flyers fought their way back to tie the game and eventually, the Flyers gained a power play late in the third period. Veteran Simon Gagne put home an incredible shot to put the Flyers in front 4-3. At that point, the remaining time in the game moved so incredibly slow, it was painful. Every shot was frightening. With about two minutes left I started thinking, could the Flyers actually do this? There’s no way this is happening right? Guess what? It did happen. The Flyers won 4-3, the same exact end result as the series. They also came back from being down 3-0 in game 7, the same way they were down 3-0 in the series.

It was the greatest comeback in Philadelphia sports history. It was the greatest game I ever watched. Of course, the Flyers lost to Chicago in the Stanley Cup Finals that year, but you know what? It didn’t erase that night in May. We may not have won the Cup, but we believe in comebacks.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Matt Elwell

Matthew Elwell was born and raised in South Jersey and is a life long Philadelphia sports fan. While he enjoys all sports, hockey and the Flyers are his biggest passion. He currently attends Rowan University and will graduate in May of 2013 with a degree in Journalism. Follow Matt on Twitter via @TheOrangeNBlack.