Ranking the 5 Best Philadelphia Flyers Teams That Never Won a Stanley Cup

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor IJanuary 31, 2014

Ranking the 5 Best Philadelphia Flyers Teams That Never Won a Stanley Cup

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    The Flyers had many great teams that fell just short of winning a championship.
    The Flyers had many great teams that fell just short of winning a championship.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    Fans of the Philadelphia Flyers are all aware of the team's two Stanley Cup wins in 1974 and 1975. Nearly 40 years later, they still stand as the ultimate highlights for a franchise that has been a consistent winner since it entered the NHL in 1967.

    But the Flyers have had plenty of other strong teams over the course of their history. Here is a look at the five strongest teams in Philadelphia hockey that did not win the Stanley Cup.

    Obviously, regular-season success is an important factor in this equation. However, playoff performance is probably a little more important. A team that finished with a lot of regular-season points but that was eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs can hardly be considered a resounding success.

    Feel free to comment on any of the teams on this list, or name one that was left off that you feel belongs here. As always, indicate why you feel the way you do.

5. 2009-10: Upstarts on a Mission

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    Daniel Briere was a key to the Flyers run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.
    Daniel Briere was a key to the Flyers run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The 2009-10 Flyers struggled through the regular season, finishing with only 88 points.

    They were off to such a rocky start that head coach John Stevens was let go 26 games into the season and replaced by Peter Laviolette.

    The coaching change did not immediately ignite the team, but once the playoffs got under way, the team caught fire behind the unheralded goaltending duo of Brian Boucher and Mike Leighton.

    Daniel Briere led the Flyers in playoff scoring with 12 goals and 30 points in 23 postseason games. Like the team itself, Briere struggled through an average regular season before his production exploded in the playoffs.

    Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were the team's two top scorers during the regular season while future Hall of Famer Chris Pronger was a rock on defense and a leader in the dressing room.

    Philadelphia's playoff run ended in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final when the Flyers lost in overtime to the Chicago Blackhawks on a goal that almost nobody saw. Flyers fans then had to watch the visiting team parade around their home rink with the Stanley Cup.

4. 1996-97: Lindros Gets Them Close

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    Eric Lindros was a dominant player in 1997.
    Eric Lindros was a dominant player in 1997.Craig Melvin/Getty Images

    The 1996-97 Philadelphia Flyers were not an easy team to face. They had size, depth and a certain toughness that made their fans proud.

    Terry Murray's club finished the regular season with 103 points, just one point behind the division leaders. A 17-game unbeaten streak in December and January was the biggest highlight of the regular season.

    "The Legion of Doom" line with Eric Lindros, John LeClair and Mikael Renberg was arguably the most dominant line in hockey at that time. Philadelphia also boasted scoring depth with Trent Klatt, Rod Brind'Amour and Dale Hawerchuk pitching in on a consistent basis.

    On defense, Paul Coffey and Eric Desjardins provided offensive support while Ron Hextall and Garth Snow alternated in net.

    The Flyers defeated some of their biggest rivals in the playoffs, getting past the Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers to reach the Stanley Cup Final.

    Once there, however, the club's momentum fell apart, and they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in four straight games. The Wings outscored the Flyers 16-6 in the final series.

3. 1986-87: Team on a Mission

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    Ron Hextall led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 1987.
    Ron Hextall led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final in 1987.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    The 1986-87 Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final on the back of some reliable goal scoring and stout defense, but the biggest factor in their long playoff run was the outstanding goaltending of rookie Ron Hextall.

    How good was Hextall? The Flyers' netminder won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP despite the fact that the Edmonton Oilers won the Stanley Cup that season, beating the Flyers in seven games.

    Mike Keenan's club featured a 58-goal scorer in Tim Kerr and a future Hall of Famer on defense in Mark Howe. Brian Propp, Peter Zezel, Dave Poulin and Rick Tocchet also provided scoring ability while Doug Crossman and Brad McCrimmon helped make the defense steady and tough to play against.

    Dave Brown and Lindsay Carson provided grit and intimidation when needed while Hextall took over the goaltending duties and won the Vezina Trophy for his fine performance.

    The Flyers got past the Rangers, New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens to reach the Stanley Cup Final before running into Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey, Mark Messier and the rest of the Oilers' dynasty. Still, the Flyers gave them all they could handle and won over the hearts of Philadelphia fans with their valiant effort.

2. 1979-80: The Team on a Streak

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    Bobby Clarke helped the Flyers remain unbeaten for 35 straight games.
    Bobby Clarke helped the Flyers remain unbeaten for 35 straight games.Denis Brodeur/Getty Images

    The 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers accomplished something that no team in NHL history had ever done. They went 35 consecutive games without a loss (25-0-10).

    The incredible streak began on October 14, 1979, with a win over the Toronto Maple Leafs and didn't end until a loss to the Minnesota North Stars on January 7, 1980.

    The Flyers finished the season with an impressive 48-12-20 record, good for a league-best 116 points.

    Reggie Leach scored 50 goals to lead the Flyers while veteran Bill Barber added 40. Rick MacLeish, Paul Holmgren and Brian Propp all topped the 30-goal mark while Ken Linseman led the team with 79 points.

    The Flyers were still a tough team with seven players accumulating at least 100 penalty minutes led by Holmgren's 267 and Behn Wilson's 212.

    Mel Bridgman took over as captain that season, replacing Bobby Clarke who became a player/assistant coach.

    The Flyers looked poised to win the franchise's third Stanley Cup, but they were upset by the New York Islanders in six games in the Stanley Cup Final.

1. 1975-76: Nearly Three Straight

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    The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final for the 3rd straight year in 1976.
    The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final for the 3rd straight year in 1976.Rusty Kennedy/Associated Press

    The Flyers came close to winning their third straight Stanley Cup in 1975-76 but couldn't overcome an injury to goalie Bernie Parent and fell in the Stanley Cup Final to the Montreal Canadiens.

    The Flyers finished the season with a team record 118 points after going 51-13-16.

    Philadelphia had plenty of scoring depth as eight different Flyers scored at least 20 goals led by Reggie Leach's 61 and Bill Barber's 50.

    Bobby Clarke finished the season with a team-leading 119 points while Barber finished second with 112.

    Parent was limited to just 11 games due to an assortment of injuries so Wayne Stephenson took over and played well enough to win 40 games with a 2.58 GAA.

    The Flyers played the Canadiens tough in the Stanley Cup Final, losing three of the four games by just one goal, but Ken Dryden and company were just a little better than that Flyers team, at least without their Hall of Fame goalie.

    It was the end of the Flyers run as champions. Had Parent been healthy, the 1976 Stanley Cup Final may have been one of the greatest matchups in hockey history.