NY Rangers Versus Philadelphia Flyers: Best Moments from the Rivalry
Broadway versus Broad Street. It's one of hockey's most storied rivalries, and it continues to be white hot today.
The Flyers joined the NHL for the 1967-68 season along with the California Seals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota North Stars, St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings, while the Rangers reserve the right to be among the league's Original Six. They played their first season in 1926.
Needless to say, it didn't take long for the matchup to catch fire, considering the teams' close proximity and fans' general pride for their own cities.
The teams have met 267 times in the regular season—it actually happens to be the most featured fixture in Flyers history—and in the playoffs, the two teams have met 10 times, with the Flyers getting the better of the Rangers, 6-4.
So when going back through history to determine which moments are best between these two, there's a whole lot to choose from. And with the recent successes of the two clubs, the best may be ahead of us.
With that being said, let's take a look at some of the best moments in the nearly half-century long Rangers/Flyers rivalry.
1974 Semifinal Meeting
In 1974, the Philadelphia Flyers became the first team from the "Next Six" expansion group to win the Stanley Cup.
But before they defeated the Boston Bruins in six games in the Cup Finals, they met the Rangers for the first time in the post season.
This brutal series went seven games with the Flyers eventually winning game seven at home 4-3. Winning at home was actually a trend throughout the entire series, considering the home team was victorious in every game.
Although this series is significant because the Flyers went on to win the first in what was to be back-to-back Stanley Cup victories, it also displayed the hatred these two teams conjured up in less than a decade of playing each other.
To best capture the sentiments of the series, which featured a playoff record of 406 penalty minutes, it's best to refer back to Game 3, which took place at Madison Square Garden. It featured the Broad Street bullies at their nastiest, with the Rangers doing their very best not to back down.
Furthermore, Madison Square Garden requested additional policemen attend the game in anticipation of an increase in some good old audience fisticuffs.
1979 Quarterfinal Meeting
Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images
In what was an odd turn of events, Fred Shero, the man who coached the Flyers to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, was hired by the Rangers in 1978.
In the following 1978-79 campaign, he led the Rangers to a 40-29-11 regular season record, which saw them finish fifth in the NHL standings, one spot behind the Flyers.
In the first round, the Rangers defeated the Kings in two games and the Flyers dismissed the Canucks in three. The two then met in what would be their second Stanley Cup playoff series.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, two time Conn Smythe winner Bernie Parent was not available, and despite still being the favorites, they were handily beaten by the Rangers in five games. Interestingly enough, the Flyers took Game 1 in overtime fashion, but the Rangers dominated the next four games, outscoring their opponent 26-5.
What makes the series even more significant was that the Rangers went on to reach the Stanley Cup Final. After beating the Flyers, the Rangers turned away the up and coming Islanders in six games. On the shoulders of goalie John Davidson, it appeared the Rangers were destined to win their first Stanley Cup since 1940, but they were to be denied by the Montreal Canadiens, who were gunning for their fourth straight Cup.
Eric Lindros Saga Part 1
Eric Lindros was selected first overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, despite making it very clear beforehand that he would never play for the club.
Nordiques management went on to claim they still had no intentions of trading Lindors, whom they believed would be the player to turn around the struggling franchise. After spending the 1991-92 season in juniors, Quebec decided Lindros would be traded in the summer of 1992.
Nordiques president, Marcel Aubut, had initially worked out a deal to trade Lindros to the Flyers. But soon after, Aubut reached a deal he considered to be better with the Rangers. Both the Rangers and Flyers had believed they won the Lindros Sweepstakes.
The Flyers immediately filed for arbitration between the three sides, and nearly a week after they believed they struck a deal with Quebec, Lindros' rights were indeed awarded to the them.
In exchange, the Flyers sent eight pieces, which included both Peter Forsberg and Ron Hextall, to Quebec, along with $15 million.
Since the deal was made, the Nordiques moved to Colorado and won two Stanley Cups, the Rangers won one and the Flyers have won none.
1997 Eastern Conference Finals
At the conclusion of the 1996-97 regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers finished with 103 points; only one point behind the Eastern Conference leaders, the New Jersey Devils.
The Rangers, on the other hand, finished with 86, which was good enough for fifth place in the East, thanks mostly to the summer acquisition of Wayne Gretzky
They Flyers, led by the storied Legion of Doom line—which consisted of Eric Lindros, John LeClair and Mikael Renberg—did what they were supposed to do, which was dominate.
They handily fought off both Pittsburgh and Buffalo in the first two rounds of the playoffs before reaching the Conference Finals.
The Rangers were a bit of a Cinderella story. After taking out Florida in five games, they met the top seeded Devils. There, the Rangers shocked the hockey world by again winning the series in five games. The series winner saw Adam Graves do his best Stephane Matteau impression.
The Flyers and Rangers were then set for their tenth playoff meeting. The Flyers the overwhelming favorites and the Rangers, despite employing two of the best players to ever play the game, were the underdogs.
The Flyers took Game 1 at home, but Wayne Gretzky's Game 2 hat trick saw the two teams knotted up heading back to MSG. Game 3 saw Lindros grab a hat trick of his own, which propelled his Flyers to a 6-3 victory.
Lindros saved his best trick for Game 4, as he scored with seven seconds in regulation to break a 2-2 deadlock. The Flyers brought their 3-1 series lead back home and won the series two days later.
The series would be the last of both Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier's careers. The Flyers went on to be swept by the Detroit Red Wings in what would be a devastating Stanley Cup Final for the fans of Philadelphia.
Eric Lindros Saga Part 2
Dave Sandford/Getty Images
"The Hit" as many refer to it, would be the last action Eric Lindros would see in a Flyers uniform.
After the 1999-2000 season, Lindros became a restricted free agent, and due to deteriorating relations between Lindros and the team, he refused to sign a contract, instead preferring to be traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Despite being cleared to play after recovering from the Stevens hit in December of 2000, the team's reluctance to trade him to Toronto wiped out Lindros season, as he elected to sit out the remainder of the season rather than play for the Flyers.
In August 2001, the saga eventually came to an end. Lindros was traded to the Rangers in exchange for Kim Johnsson, Jan Hlavac, Pavel Brendl and a third round selection. At the end of a bizarre situation, which saw Lindros do to the Flyers almost exactly what he did to Quebec some 10 years earlier, the Rangers finally got their man.
Trading such a high profile player like Lindros to a division rival like the Rangers was huge risk for Bobby Clarke and Flyers management. In the end, though, it turned out to be a wash.
Lindros' efforts never saw the Rangers into the playoffs during his three seasons there, and in his final campaign, he only saw 39 games. On the Flyers' side, Johnsson proved to be a serviceable defenseman for three seasons, but both Hlavac and Brendl flopped.
April 11, 2010
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
It could not have been scripted any better.
On April 11, 2010, the Rangers and Flyers met in the final game of the season. The teams sat eighth and ninth in the Eastern Conference standings and it was simple: You win and you're in.
What nobody was expecting, but certainly hoping for, was a winner take all shootout.
Both teams went through quite the 82 game season to get to where they were on the 11th. The Flyers saw head coach John Stevens replaced by Peter Laviolette in December, as well as an unfathomable amount of injuries over the course of the season.
The Rangers, on the other hand, needed to post a 7-1-2 record in their last 10 games of the season so that the game on the 11th could have any significance.
Jody Shelley's shock goal gave the Rangers the lead in the first period. They remained in front until the third period, when Flyers defenseman Matt Carle knotted it up. Overtime settled nothing, so it was on to what would be the first shootout in NHL history with direct playoffs implications.
Instead of me trying to catch the essence of what happened next, it's probably best for you to check it out for yourself.
What happened after that game was remarkable. The Flyers clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and went on one of the most amazing Cinderella runs the league has ever seen. After knocking off the Devils, Bruins and Canadiens, the Flyers met the Chicago Blackhawks in the Finals.
Despite going down 2-0 in the series, the Flyers knotted it up on home ice. Game 5 saw yet another Hawks victory in Chicago, but the Flyers were confident heading back home. Ultimately, their magical run was ended by Pat Kane's bizarre overtime winner in Game 6.
2012 Winter Classic
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
In what was probably the best way to honor the history of these two clubs, the Rangers and Flyers met in the 2012 Winter Classic.
Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park was the site for the game, whose festivities were kicked off with a star studded alumni game that featured legends such as Mark Messier, Eric Lindros, Bernie Parent, Brian Leetch, Bobby Clarke, Jeremy Roenick, Glenn Anderson and Mark Howe.
The build up to the game ensured it was going to be a doozie. Both teams found themselves at the top of the Eastern Conference standings at the time of the game, and a dress rehearsal of sorts at MSG some week and half before the Winter Classic proved that this had the potential to be the nastiest reincarnation of the game yet.
In the second period, the Flyers took a quick two goal lead, but 30 seconds after they picked up their second, Mike Rupp got one back for the Rangers. He doubled his money early in the third period before Brad Richards' eventual game winner three minutes later. It was a surprising comeback considering the Rangers' sluggish play for most of the game.
The climax of the game came was, with just 20 seconds remaining, when Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh was whistled for covering the puck in his own crease. The Flyers were awarded a penalty shot to be taken by any player they choose. It ended up being Daniel Briere, but he was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist. Here, have a look for yourself.
But in the end, it was a great night to honor the relationship these two teams have shared over the course of the past 45 years or so. The collection of current and former players who gathered was special, and the game itself was arguably the most exciting Winter Classic yet. But what else would you expect from these two teams?