Dave Brown became one of the many surprising heroes of the '87 Finals
After a thrilling come-from-behind game three victory that seemed to swing the momentum of the 1987 Finals in the Flyers favor, the team went out and got destroyed in game four. It was a game made famous mainly because of Ron Hextall's slash on Kent Nilsson.
The team had to travel to Edmonton for game five with the hockey world, and the Oilers themselves sure of Edmonton's victory.
So sure in fact that the team and the city already planned a parade for the day after game five and published it in the local papers.
The Flyers came back from being down twice in the game—a game that could also make this list—and captured an improbable 5-4 victory in front of a stunned Northlands Coliseum crowd.
The Stanley Cup was in the Spectrum for game six and though game five's heroics gave the team some life, the hill still seemed too big to climb for the Flyers. That hill seemed like a mountain when the Oilers jumped out to a 2-0 lead.The Oilers kept coming at the Flyers like a series of blue and orange waves.
It is a testament to how amazing Ron Hextall was in the 1987 playoffs that the Flyers even had a shot against the Oilers. His play kept the team in game six.
Make no mistake, Ron Hextall deserves to have his number retired by the Flyers, he may even deserve to be in the hockey Hall of Fame if only for the 1987 playoffs alone.
If you want to see the definition of a goaltender's play being the sole reason that a team has any chance at all at victory, just watch game six of the 1987 Finals. The Flyers had no business being in that game, but Hextall and his fierce determination and competitiveness (not to mention his ability and talent) kept the game within reach.
In the second period, with the Flyers offense absolutely stagnant and the Oilers constantly swarming, Mike Keenan put out a checking line that featured team policeman Dave Brown.
Brown, known way more for his ability to utterly annihilate other teams tough guys than he was for his play making ability, put pressure on the Oilers in their zone.
He dug the puck out of the offensive left wing corner and thread a perfect pass through the goal mouth to left winger Lindsay Carson who buried the pass into the goal cutting the Oilers lead in half.
That Brown and Carson would combined to break the Oilers stranglehold on the game says a lot about that team's depth.
In the third period, noted Oiler cheap-shot artist, Glen Anderson, swung his stick like a maniac and hit Flyers center Peter Zezel in the face and then acted incredulous at the penalty called against him.
The Flyers answered with Brian Propp scoring the most famous goal of his career, a beautifully placed snap shot from the slot just above Grant Fuhr's glove hand.
With the score tied at two apiece, Peter Zezel carried the puck out of the Flyers zone and the team tried to dump it into the Oilers end. Jari Kurri inexplicably, blindly tried to clear the puck and turned his back on the play. It was the perfect set up as defenseman JJ Daigneualt came to the Oiler blue line and one timed Kurri's feeble clearance attempt off the boards past the screening Scott Mellanby and just inside the post behind Fuhr's stick side.
The Spectrum exploded.
Players on that team still talk about the energy that could be felt in the air, coursing through the undoubtedly smoke filled Spectrum.
The final minute of that game, with the Oilers pressing and the Flyers desperately clinging on to their lead in hopes of extending their season and their dream of a Stanley Cup victory, is arguably the most intense 60 seconds of hockey in the history of the NHL.
With under 10 seconds remaining, Hextall tried to clear the puck out of the zone from the defensive left wing corner.
Mark Messier leaped in the air and caught the clearing pass and advanced on a wide open net.
Hextall slid into the crease just in time to make the save and then the rebound was fired high and wide.
The Flyers held on to win.
They pushed the greatest NHL team ever assembled to the limit. They forced a game six, three times refusing to roll over and die.
For one night Poulin, Propp, Zezel, Carson, Brown, Daigneualt, Howe, Mellanby and Hextall could be mentioned favorably over Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Anderson, Coffey, MacTavish and Fuhr.