NHL: Ranking the Greatest Goalies in Philadelphia Flyers History

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor INovember 21, 2013

NHL: Ranking the Greatest Goalies in Philadelphia Flyers History

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    Goaltending has always been important to the Flyers.
    Goaltending has always been important to the Flyers.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    Goaltending is a big part of any successful hockey team. Since entering the NHL in 1967, the Philadelphia Flyers have had some outstanding netminders. Here is a look at the top five goalies in Flyers history.

    Keep in mind that only a player's performance in a Flyers jersey counts toward this list. A player like John Vanbiesbrouck, who had a very successful NHL career but was only in a Philadelphia uniform briefly, will not appear on this list.

    The player's statistics are important, but they have to be adjusted for the era the goalie in question played for. A 3.00 goals-against average was not great in 1974 or 2004, but in 1984, it was outstanding.

    We also consider how the goalies in question contributed to the team's success. If the team won consistently during the regular season and/or had playoff success while this goalie was in net, that will count favorably on this list.

    Feel free to mention any goalies you think belong on this list but were overlooked. Also, feel free to argue a player belongs higher or lower on this list. As always, please back up your comments with statistics or other evidence.

Honorable Mention:

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    Wayne Stephenson helped the Flyers reach the Cup Final in 1976.
    Wayne Stephenson helped the Flyers reach the Cup Final in 1976.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    Honorable mentions will go to a pair of goalies: Wayne Stephenson and Bob Froese.

    Stephenson earns his honorable mention largely on his performance during the 1975-76 season, although he spent five seasons with the Flyers. In 66 games that season, Stephenson finished with a 40-10-13 record and 2.58 GAA.

    Stephenson took over for an injured Bernie Parent that year and led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final for their the third straight season. They ended up being swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the final, although three of the four losses were by one goal.

    Froese received honorable mention mostly for his outstanding win-loss record. He appeared in 165 games for the Flyers during his career and had a 93-35-26 record. His best season came in 1985-86 when he went 31-10-3.

5. Doug Favell

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    Doug Favell was one of the first goalies to wear a colored mask.
    Doug Favell was one of the first goalies to wear a colored mask.Denis Brodeur/Getty Images

    Doug Favell was a member of the original Flyers team in 1967-68 and remained with the team until the end of the 1972-73 season.

    He split time with Bernie Parent for most of his tenure with the Flyers. At times, Favell was the starter; at times it was Parent. When the Flyers traded Parent to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1971, Favell became the full-time starter.  

    Favell helped lead the Flyers to the Western Division title in the club's first season. He recorded four shutouts that year and 2.27 GAA and a .931 save percentage.

    While Favell was outstanding at times, consistency was often an issue for him. He would often follow up hot streaks with ineffective games.

    The native of Saint Catharines, Ontario was also famous for being one of the first goalies to paint his mask. The one shown in the picture on this page was orange and white. He also wore a solid orange mask for the Flyers at times.

    Favell won 76 games with Philadelphia and finished with a 2.78 GAA and 16 shutouts.

4. Pete Peeters

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    Pete Peeters was a big part of the Flyers' record-setting unbeaten streak.
    Pete Peeters was a big part of the Flyers' record-setting unbeaten streak.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    Pete Peeters appears on this list primarily for his contributions to Philadelphia's record-breaking unbeaten streak during the 1979-80 season.

    Peeters split time with veteran Phil Myre that season. He started the year on fire, going 22-0-5 before finally losing his first game of the season on February 19, 1980.

    The Edmonton native finished 1979-80 with a 29-5-5 record. He was selected to the 1980 NHL All-Star Game and later helped the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup Final, where they fell to the New York Islanders in six games.

    Unfortunately, Peeters never duplicated his spectacular rookie season. His play fell off a bit in 1980-81, but in 1981-82, he struggled and his GAA rose to 3.71. He was traded to the Boston Bruins before the start of the 1982-83 season.

    Peeters returned to the Flyers for two more seasons at the end of his career, primarily as a veteran backup.

    His final career numbers in Philadelphia included a record of 85-57-20, a GAA of  3.19 and five shutouts.

3. Pelle Lindbergh

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    Pelle Lindbergh was an outstanding goalie for the Flyers for a little more than four seasons before his career was ended by his tragic death in an auto accident.

    Lindbergh burst onto the NHL scene in the early '80s. He was named to the All-Rookie team in 1982-83 after finishing his rookie campaign with a 23-13-3 record.

    The Swedish star played in two NHL All-Star Games for the Flyers and won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie in 1985. He was the first European-born goalie to win the award.

    On November 10, 1985, Lindbergh was involved in a one-car accident while driving at a high speed. Alcohol was a factor in the accident. He died one day later at the age of 26. Had he survived, Lindbergh had the potential to be one of the great goalies of his era.

    His final record with the Flyers was 87-49-15 with a 3.30 GAA and seven shutouts.

    The Flyers hand out the Pelle Lindbergh Award each year to the most improved player on the club.

2. Ron Hextall

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    Ron Hextall is one of the most popular goalies in Flyers history.
    Ron Hextall is one of the most popular goalies in Flyers history.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    Ron Hextall was one of the most popular players in Flyers history. His tough, combative style of play and toughness made him a fan favorite.

    The Brandon, Manitoba, native had his best season as a rookie in 1986-87. He was named the winner of the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie and won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top netminder. Hextall won 37 games as a rookie and had a GAA of 3.00 during an era when when few goalies had GAAs that low.

    He also led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final that season where they fell to Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers in seven games. Despite the fact that the Flyers lost the series, Hextall was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    The following season, Hextall became the first NHL goalie to shoot a puck into the opposing net and be credited with a goal.

    In 1988-89, Hextall set an NHL record for goalies with 113 penalty minutes in a season, the third straight year he topped the 100-penalty-minute mark.

    Hextall finished his career as the Flyers' all-time leader among goalies in games played (489), wins (240), points (28) and penalty minutes (476).

    He had two stints with the Flyers and played 11 of his 13 NHL seasons with Philadelphia.

    Today, Hextall serves as an assistant general manager with the Flyers.

1. Bernie Parent

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    Bernie Parent is the only Philadelphia Flyers goalie to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame primarily for his work with the Flyers. He is also the only goalie to lead the Flyers to a Stanley Cup title, which he did in both 1974 and 1975.

    Parent had two stints in Philadelphia, first from 1967-68 through 1970-71 and then again from 1973-74 until his career was cut short by an eye injury in 1978-79.

    The Flyers became the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup, primarily on the strength of Parent's goaltending. In 1973-74, he led the NHL with 47 wins, a 1.89 GAA and 12 shutouts. In the playoffs, his superior play helped the Flyers edge the New York Rangers in seven games in the semifinals and then beat the Bruins in six games in the final. Fittingly, Parent earned a shutout in the cup-clinching game and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

    The following season, the Flyers won another championship. Parent again led the league with 44 wins and 12 shutouts. His GAA was a league-best 2.03.

    Parent won a second straight Conn Smythe Trophy and again recorded a shutout in the last game of the Stanley Cup Final.

    Parent's final numbers with the Flyers included a 232-141-103 record, a 2.42 GAA and 50 shutouts. He remains immensely popular with the fans in Philadelphia and the best goalie the Flyers ever had.