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The 5 Greatest Playoff Series in Philadelphia Flyers History

Dan FremuthContributor IIIMarch 13, 2014

The 5 Greatest Playoff Series in Philadelphia Flyers History

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Flyers have qualified for the playoffs 36 times in the team's 46-year history.

    In all, the Orange and Black have enjoyed 414 franchise postseason outings, capturing 214 game victories, 43 series triumphs and two Stanley Cups.

    And through it all, the Flyers have experienced more than their fair share of memorable playoff series.

    Here's a look at the five biggest postseason series in Philadelphia history.

Flyers vs. Boston Bruins, 1974

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    The Flyers captured their first of two Stanley Cups in franchise history in 1974, courtesy of a six-game triumph over the Boston Bruins.

    In just its seventh season in the NHL, Philadelphia became the first of the non-Original Six teams to capture the championship.

    After series victories over the Atlanta Flames and New York Rangers, the Flyers met Boston in the final, who had already claimed the Stanley Cup in two of the previous four postseasons. What's more, the Bruins had home-ice advantage and were 17-0-2 in their previous 19 games head-to-head against Philadelphia in Boston.

    Needless to say, the Bruins were heavy favorites over the Orange and Black.

    But Philly was able to split the opening two games at the Boston Garden thanks to an Andre Dupont extra-attacker tally late in regulation and a Bobby Clarke overtime winner in Game 2. The Flyers then claimed both games at the Spectrum thanks in large part to goaltender Bernie Parent, who limited the Bruins to just three total goals in Games 3 and 4.

    Boston dominated Game 5 but lost the clincher in Philly in Game 6 after a 30-save shutout from Parent. All told, the Flyers netminder surrendered just four goals against in Philadelphia's four wins in the series and was named the winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP for his efforts.

    The Stanley Cup triumph triggered one of the biggest celebrations in Philadelphia sports history, as more than two million fans lined Broad Street for a ticker-tape parade.

Flyers vs. Buffalo Sabres, 1975

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    In 1975, Philadelphia became the first non-Canadian market to win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 20 years.

    After a six-game championship triumph over Boston the year prior, the Flyers claimed their second championship in franchise history the following season thanks to a six-game victory over the Buffalo Sabres.

    A matchup that featured the two winningest teams during the 1974-75 regular season, the 1975 Stanley Cup Final was the first to have two non-Original Six teams since the 1967 expansion.

    Despite recording the second-most goals during the regular season (354), Buffalo was limited to just 12 goals in the final thanks to the stellar play between the pipes of Parent. The eventual Conn Smythe winner (again) allowed just three goals against in Philadelphia's four wins, including another Cup-clinching shutout in Game 6.

    The 1975 final also featured the legendary Fog Game in Game 3, where unusual heat in Buffalo in late May coupled with the lack of an air conditioning system in the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium caused portions of the game to be played in heavy fog. The Sabres earned a 5-4 overtime victory that night, but the Flyers would have the final say, capturing their second championship in just their eighth season.

Flyers vs. Toronto Maples Leafs, 2003

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    It's rare that an opening-round playoff matchup is considered one of the biggest in team history.

    It's also rare that a postseason series features three multi-overtime contests.

    The Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs got their money's worth in 2003 when the two sides went the full seven games, with two of those outings ending in double overtime and a third (Game 4) resolved in triple overtime.

    Philly and Toronto split the first two games at Wachovia Center, with the Maple Leafs grabbing a 5-3 victory in Game 1 (despite only 14 shots on Flyers goaltender Roman Cechmanek) before Philadelphia evened the series with a 4-1 triumph two nights later.

    Then the marathons began.

    Tomas Kaberle scored 7:20 into the second overtime of Game 3, while Mark Recchi converted 13:54 into the third overtime of Game 4. After a 4-1 regulation victory by the Flyers in Game 5, Toronto's Travis Green connected 10:51 into the second overtime of Game 6 to force a decisive seventh game.

    Ironically for a series that had been so competitive through its first six games, the final contest was a blowout as Philly drubbed Toronto 6-1 to advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinal.

Flyers vs. Boston Bruins, 2010

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    Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    The Flyers made history in 2010 when they became just the third team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit en route to a 4-3 series triumph.

    After 5-4, 3-2 and 4-1 losses to Boston, Philadelphia was on life support heading into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal.

    But Simon Gagne returned in that win-or-go-home tilt and connected 14:40 into overtime to allow Philly to live another day. From there, the Flyers earned a 4-0 shutout at TD Garden in Game 5 before evening the series with a 2-1 victory at Wachovia Center in Game 6.

    But there were still more Philadelphia comebacks to come.

    After squandering a 3-0 series lead, the Bruins opened up a 3-0 lead in the opening period of Game 7 only to see the Flyers overcome that too.

    James van Riemsdyk got Philly on the board in advance of the first intermission before Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere scored in the second frame to tie the game 3-3. Ironically, it was Gagne who gave the Flyers new life with his series-preserving game-winner in Game 4, and he did it again with the series-clinching conversion 12:52 into the third period, which punched Philadelphia's ticket to the Eastern Conference Final.

    Philly's comeback was not only one of the greatest playoff series in team history but one of the truly phenomenal comebacks in all of sports history.

Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 2012

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    Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Any playoff series between bitter rivals is fun.

    It's no secret the Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins don't like each other. But in 2012 when the in-state rivals clashed in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, they really didn't like one another.

    Despite being underdogs in the series, the Flyers jumped out to a surprising 3-0 series lead after outscoring the high-scoring Penguins 20-12 through the series' first three games. Philly erased a 3-0 first-period deficit in Game 1 before prevailing 4-3 in overtime. The Flyers then notched eight goals in back-to-back outings to secure a stranglehold on the series.

    It was in that second night of an offensive outburst when tempers really started to flare.

    The two sides combined for 158 penalty minutes, including 72 in a fight-filled first period. Pittsburgh's Arron Asham was suspended four games for a cross-check on Brayden Schenn, while Craig Adams was suspended one game for instigating a fight. In addition, James Neal was suspended one game for charging Claude Giroux.

    Despite the suspensions, the Penguins got on the board with a convincing 10-3 victory in Game 4. Pittsburgh's outing marked the first time in 22 years that a team had scored 10 goals in a playoff game. Meanwhile, the 45 goals scored through the first four games set an NHL record for most goals scored in the first four games of a seven-game series.

    Pittsburgh cut the series deficit down to a single game with a 3-2 win in Game 5, but Philadelphia made sure that was as close as the Penguins got.

    Giroux set the tone at home in Game 6 by leveling Sidney Crosby in the opening moments before igniting the Wells Fargo Center crowd with a goal just 32 seconds into the tilt. Scott Hartnell, Erik Gustafsson, Danny Briere and Brayden Schenn all scored thereafter en route to a convincing 5-1 series-ending victory.

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