With the Flyers’ win Monday night against the Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia became the first expansion team in NHL history to reach the 2000 win mark, thus adding to their long and storied history. Here is a chronicle of some of the Flyers’ most noteworthy regular season victories.
October 18, 1967 – The Flyers first ever victory.
It seems fitting for the first stop down memory lane to go all the way back to win number one. The Flyers entered the 1967 as an expansion team in the league’s new Western Division. Yes that’s right, Philadelphia was a Western Division team. The Flyers opened their first season 0-2 with losses to fellow expansion teams Oakland and Los Angeles. Then, on October 18th, the Flyers got in the win column for the first time in franchise history against the St. Louis Blues. The game took place at the St. Louis Arena and the Flyers won by a score of 2-1. Ed Hoekstra and captain Lou Angotti scored the two goals for Philadelphia that night. Goaltender Doug Favell picked up the victory in the historic game. This game began the franchise’s first ever winning streak as they would then rack up wins against the Penguins and Seals.
October 11, 1973 – Parent and Clarke start a new era.
The first game of the 1973-74 season was the birth of the most successful era in Flyers history. On this night, Bob Clarke and Bernie Parent celebrated their first victory as teammates. The Flyers blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 with Parent recording his first shutout in his return to Philadelphia. Goals for the Flyers came off the sticks of Terry Crisp and Bill Barber. This was the Flyers’ first of four straight victories to open the season. Looking back it’s unfathomable that any player wearing orange and black that night knew the success was ahead of them, but this game began it all for an era of Flyers hockey that we still look fondly on forty years later. The men that were on this team can still be seen walking the halls of the Wells Fargo Center during home games shaking hands and taking pictures with fans young and old. They were not yet known as the Broad Street Bullies, but this game was the foundation of a Philadelphia dynasty.
December 22, 1979 – The Flyers break the record.
In the 1979-80 season the Flyers set the record for most consecutive games unbeaten at 35. Their record still stands today, almost forty years later. On December 22 the Flyers traveled to the Boston Garden with the intent of breaking the Montreal Canadians record of 28 set twenty-two years prior. The Flyers won the game beating the Bruins 5-2. Not only is this record the longest in NHL history, but it also stands as the longest unbeaten streak in all North American sports.
November 14, 1985 – First game after the death of Pelle Lindbergh
The 1985-86 season for the Flyers had high expectations, but quickly turned into unspeakable tragedy. A season that the franchise hoped would end in a parade down Broad Street will now forever be defined by the death of Pelle Lindbergh. On November 14, 1985 the Flyers played a game for the first time without their fallen teammate and earned the most heartfelt victory in the history of the franchise. The Flyers beat the defending champion Edmonton Oilers 5-3. One season earlier the Oilers defeated the Flyers in the finals despite the best efforts of Lindbergh in net.
Below is my interview with Flyers legend Brian Propp, who was kind enough to recall his thoughts on both the victory in Boston to break the record and the one following Pelle’s death.
February 11, 1995 – The Legion of Doom is born.
The first game the Legion of Doom played together was a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils in the Meadowlands. The line was formed after the Flyers traded Mark Recchi to Montreal in exchange for John LeClair and Eric Desjardins. Head coach Terry Murray moved Mikal Renberg to Eric Lindros’s right and placed LeClair to his left and the line was complete. The line recorded their first point against the Devils on a LeClair goal with an assist from Lindros. Including this game, the Flyers finished the season 25-9-3 and the LOD compiled a combined 80 goals and 96 assists. They led the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals where they were defeated in six games by the Devils.
January 12 2002 – Eric Lindros Returns
The picture is hard to look at and at the time it was hard to imagine. In August of 2001 the turmoil between Eric Lindros and the Flyers organization boiled over and then general manager Bobby Clarke dealt the once franchise cornerstone to the New York Rangers. Lindros made his return to Philly on January 12 and saw his Rangers fall to the Flyers 4-2. Lindros recorded zero points on three shots and two penalty minutes for a dive in the second period. Kim Johnsson, who was part of the return for Lindros from New York, recorded a goal and an assist.
April 11, 2010 – The Shootout.
A simple name for a game that defined an entire season. As the Flyers entered the final game of the 2009-2010 season against the Rangers the stakes were clear: Winner gets in, loser goes home. The two division rivals were battling with literally their entire seasons on the line. In net for New York was Henrik Lundquist, who at the time was the best goaltender in the NHL. The Flyers countered with their once promising netminder Brian Boucher, who was in his second stint with the club and in the twilight of his career. Rangers tough guy Jody Shelley opened the scoring in the first period and the Flyers couldn’t respond until Matt Carle scored on the power play in the third. A scoreless overtime meant the two teams would decide the season in a shootout. The Flyers have been historically bad at the shootout since its inception in the NHL and Lundquist is a wizard at it. Danny Briere was the first to shoot and beat Lundquist, followed by a miss from either team and then a goal by either team. It came down to Boucher shutting the door on New York’s Olli Jokinen for the Flyers to receive the final spot in the playoffs. We all know how this story ends so I wont go into detail. Just revel in the moment that made it all possible.
This list I compiled are just a few of the many great wins for the Philadelphia Flyers since they began play in 1967. Did I miss some good ones? Absolutely. The ones I chose are the ones that stood out most in my mind when I thought of the magnitude of 2000 wins. After you read and reminisce, think about the wins that meant most to you during your life as a Flyers fan.
Special thanks to Brian Propp for giving me some insight on two of the games mentioned. The Flyers organization is one with a very rich history, and their latest accomplishment is an example of that.