Breaking Down the Philadelphia Flyers' and New York Rangers' Playoff History

Brad Kurtzberg@@sealshockeyContributor IApril 15, 2014

Breaking Down the Philadelphia Flyers' and New York Rangers' Playoff History

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    The last time the Flyers faced the Rangers in the playoffs was 1997.
    The last time the Flyers faced the Rangers in the playoffs was 1997.Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers open up the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

    The two teams are long-time division rivals. This will mark the 11th playoff meeting between these two Metropolitan Division franchises.

    Despite the fact both teams have had success in recent years, they have not met in the postseason since 1997.

    Here is a look back at the previous 10 playoff meetings between these two frequent combatants. We will discuss the highlights of each series and some of the great players on both teams that have impacted this rivalry.

    Feel free to comment on any of these past series and add your memories of these series whether they are personal memories or general ones.

1974 Semifinals

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    The first time the Rangers and Flyers met in the playoffs was in the 1974 semifinals. In this series, the Flyers made history by becoming the first expansion team to win a series from an Original Six club (for a more in-depth look at this series, click here).

    Despite the fact the Flyers finished the season 18 points ahead of the Rangers in the standings, almost nobody picked the Flyers to win the series.

    The Rangers featured future Hall of Famers Brad Park, Jean Ratelle, Ed Giacomin and Rod Gilbert in their lineup while the Flyers had Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber and Bernie Parent.

    The home team won all seven games in this physical and closely contested series, which featured more than its share of fights and more than 400 penalty minutes over the course of seven contests.

    Game 7 was held at the Spectrum, and the Flyers set the tone early when Dave Schultz beat up Rangers' defenseman Dale Rolfe in front of the Rangers' bench in the first period. Rolfe was bloodied, but the Rangers did not come to his aid.

    After the game, Flyers coach Fred Shero told reporters (as recalled by that after Schultz won that fight, the Rangers weren't as physical, and that made a difference.

    Gary Dornhoefer scored twice, and the Flyers held on for a 4-3 win in Game 7 to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

    The Flyers then went on to defeat the Boston Bruins in six games to win their first title.

    Shortly after this series, Rangers general manager Emile Francis traded his captain, Vic Hadfield, and the dismantling of a very good Rangers team got started.



1979 Quarterfinals

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    John Davidson helped the Rangers oust the Flyers in 1979.
    John Davidson helped the Rangers oust the Flyers in 1979.Gene Puskar

    The Rangers and Flyers were a lot more evenly matched in 1979 with Philadelphia finishing with 95 points, just four points better than their rivals from Broadway.

    The Rangers got revenge on the Flyers for 1974, ousting them in five games and beating them handily all four times.

    Philadelphia drew first blood in Game 1 when Ken Linseman scored just 44 seconds into overtime to give the Flyers a 3-2 victory. The Flyers trailed 2-0 in the game before goals by Bob Kelly and Barber forced overtime. Robbie Moore made 22 saves to earn the win for the home team.

    But Rangers goalie John Davidson got red hot. He made 32 saves in Game 2 as the Rangers cruised to a 7-1 win at the Spectrum.

    Then, Davidson stopped 32 more shots in Game 3, which the Rangers won 5-1 despite being outshot 33-25. Rookie Don Maloney scored twice for New York.

    Davidson shut out the Flyers in a 6-0 Rangers win in Game 4 before the New Yorkers closed out the series with an 8-3 win in Philadelphia. Walt Tkaczuk had two goals and two assists for the Rangers, who took an early lead and never looked back.

    The Rangers went on to the Stanley Cup Final before losing to the Montreal Canadiens in five games. The Flyers regrouped and prepared for better things the following year.

1980 Quarterfinals

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    Reggie Leach scored 50 goals for the Flyers in 1980.
    Reggie Leach scored 50 goals for the Flyers in 1980.Steve Babineau/Getty Images

    The 1979-80 Flyers enjoyed a record-setting 35-game unbeaten streak and finished with 116 points, 30 ahead of the Rangers.

    The team was led by Ken Linseman's passing and toughness and the goal scoring of Reggie Leach and Barber who totaled 90 tallies between them.

    After sweeping a young Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers in the opening round, the Flyers faced the Rangers in the quarterfinals and quickly jumped on top.

    Behn Wilson scored the game-winning goal early in the third period, while Pete Peeters made 29 saves as the Flyers took Game 1 at the Spectrum 2-1. Then, in Game 2, Leach scored an empty-net goal in the final minutes to clinch a 4-1 win and a 2-0 series lead for Philadelphia.

    The series shifted to Madison Square Garden for Game 3. Peeters stopped all 29 New York shots and never let the crowd celebrate. A shorthanded goal by big Bob Dailey in the first period turned out to be the game-winner.

    The Rangers stayed alive by winning Game 4 4-1, thanks to a hat trick by Ron Duguay, but Peeters made 25 saves in Game 5 to help the Flyers eliminate the Rangers with a 3-1 win. Mel Bridgman had two assists, while Wilson again scored the winning goal.

    The Flyers went on to the Stanley Cup Final before falling to the New York Islanders in six games.

1982 Patrick Division Semifinals

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    The Rangers finished five points ahead of the Flyers in 1981-82, and the two clubs met in the first round of the playoffs as the NHL shifted to a new playoff format.

    Peeters stole Game 1 for Philadelphia at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers outshot the Flyers 36-20, but Peeters stopped 35 of those shots while Darryl Sittler scored twice in a 4-1 win for the road club.

    In Game 2, seven different Rangers scored, including former 1980 U.S. Olympians Dave Silk and Rob McClanahan, as the Rangers evened the series with a 7-3 victory. Forward Mikko Leinonen assisted on six of the New York goals to set a new NHL record for most assists in a playoff game.

    The Flyers took a quick 3-0 lead in Game 3 at the Spectrum, but the Rangers fought back and tied it before seldom-used forward Cam Connor got the deciding goal with just 1:09 left in the third period.

    In Game 4, the Rangers took the early 3-0 lead. Clarke scored twice and added two assists as the Flyers tried in vain to tie the game. Eddie Mio made 38 saves for the Rangers, who won the game 7-5 and the series 3-1.

1983 Patrick Division Semifinals

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    The Flyers won the Patrick Division in 1982-83 with 106 points, while the Rangers finished with just 80 under coach Herb Brooks. Bob McCammon's club was a heavy favorite in the opening round of the 1982-83 playoffs.

    The Flyers were bigger and stronger than the Rangers, but Brooks' club was faster and used his innovative passing system to frustrate the Flyers throughout the series.

    Because the Rangers forwards were smaller than the Flyers and they wore blue, they earned the nickname "The Smurfs" after the popular cartoon.

    Anders Hedberg scored a pair of goals in Game 1, as the Rangers beat the Flyers in Philadelphia 5-3. Mio made 39 saves and was a difference maker for New York.

    Two days later, Mark Pavelich had a goal and two assists, as the Rangers beat the Flyers 4-3. Brian Propp had a goal and an assist for the Flyers in a losing cause. Philadelphia outshot New York 35-22, but Mio came up with some spectacular saves to frustrate the home team.

    Game 3 was back in New York, and the Rangers left little doubt about the outcome despite some big fights early on. McClanahan had two goals and three assists, as the Rangers cruised to a 9-3 win and a series sweep.

1985 Patrick Division Semifinal

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    The 1984-85 Flyers had the best record in the NHL with 113 points. That same year, the Rangers finished with just 62 points, 18 games under .500 and 51 points behind the Flyers.

    When the two clubs met in the best-of-five opening round of the playoffs, a route was expected. The Flyers did sweep the series, but the Rangers did manage to make each game a struggle.

    In Game 1, the Flyers had leads of 3-0 and 4-3, but didn't win until Mark Howe scored 8:01 into overtime to give the Flyers the early series lead.

    Todd Bergen scored twice in a 3-1 Flyers win in Game 2. Pelle Lindbergh was on top of his game, making 38 saves to earn the victory. Ilkka Sinisalo clinched the win by scoring the final goal with 2:20 left in regulation.

    The Flyers earned the sweep at Madison Square Garden in a thrilling final. The Rangers took a 2-0 lead before Tim Kerr scored four goals in 8:16. Three of those goals came on the power play. It was a natural hat trick (plus one), as nobody on either team scored in between Kerr's four tallies.

    The Rangers got early third period goals by Maloney and Hedberg, but the Flyers clamped down on defense after that and Lindbergh did the rest, as Philadelphia held on to win 6-5 and earn the sweep.

    The Flyers advanced to the Stanley Cup Final that year only to fall to the Edmonton Oilers in five games.

1986 Patrick Division Semifinal

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    Mike Keenan's team was dominant again in 1985-86, finishing with the best record in the Wales Conference with 110 points. No team gave up fewer goals than the Flyers that season, courtesy of the goaltending of Bob Froese, who took over as the starter after Lindberg's tragic death on November 11, 1985.

    The Rangers finished a distant 32 points back, but Craig Patrick was able to rally his team for a Cinderella playoff run to the Eastern Conference Final that spring.

    Mike Ridley scored twice and added an assist, as the Rangers shocked the Flyers 6-2 in Game 1 in Philadelphia. John Vanbiesbrouck made 31 saves for New York, which won despite being outshot 33-22.

    The Flyers dominated Game 2, but won it by just one goal again because of Vanbiesbrouck's outstanding play in net. Rich Sutter and Brad McCrimmon scored in the first period to put the Flyers up 2-0, but that was all the Flyers were able to score despite taking 44 total shots on the New York goal. The Flyers limited the Rangers to just 12 shots in the game including just three in the third period and held on for a 2-1 victory.

    Philadelphia had a 2-1 lead as the third period began in Game 3 back in New York, but watched it slip away as the underdog Rangers scored four times in the third period to win 5-2. Ron Greschner scored twice for the home team.

    The Flyers re-established their dominance in Game 4 with their backs against the wall. After Pierre LaRouche made it 1-0 Rangers early, the Flyers pounced and scored the next seven goals in a 7-1 route of the Broadway Blueshirts. Peter Zezel had a hat trick and added an assist while Froese made 31 saves to send the series back to Philadelphia for the deciding fifth game.

    Game 5 was back at the Spectrum, and it was a close one. The Rangers led 3-1 when McCrimmon scored midway through the third period to pull Philadelphia to within a goal with 8:24 remaining in regulation time. But the Flyers couldn't beat Vanbiesbrouck to get the tying goal, and a pair of empty-net tallies by the Rangers made the final 5-2 and finished the stunning upset.

1987 Patrick Division Semifinals

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    The Rangers and Flyers met for the third straight year in the 1987 playoffs.
    The Rangers and Flyers met for the third straight year in the 1987 playoffs.Ed Bailey

    The Flyers won the Patrick Division again in 1986-87, and again, had to face the pesky Rangers in the opening round of the playoffs. This time, Keenan's club had revenge on its mind. They got it, but the Rangers refused to go down without giving the heavily-favored Flyers a battle.

    Game 1 gave the Flyers a sense of deja vu, as Vanbiesbrouck made 26 saves to lead the Rangers to a 3-0 win. Pierre Larouche scored twice for the Rangers.

    The Flyers set the tone in Game 2, as Dave Brown battled New York's George McPhee when the game was barely two minutes old. Rick Tocchet scored twice, as the Flyers solved Vanbiesbrouck and evened the series with an 8-3 victory.

    Ron Hextall was the best player in Game 3, stopping 34 shots in a 3-0 shutout win at Madison Square Garden. Zezel, Howe and Tocchet scored in the second period for Philadelphia.

    The Rangers evened the series with a 6-3 win in Game 4. It was 3-0 New York just 10:31 into the game. The Flyers got as close at 5-3 but couldn't pull even.

    Philadelphia controlled Game 5, but former Flyer Froese kept the Rangers in the game. In the end, Tocchet scored twice, including an empty-netter, and the Flyers won 3-1 to take a 3-2 series lead.

    Game 6 was back in New York, but Hextall shut the door on the Rangers, making 34 saves to earn his second shutout of the series in a 5-0 Flyers win. Doug Crossman had a goal and an assist for Philadelphia in the clinching game.

    The Flyers again reached the Stanley Cup Final in 1987 before falling in seven games to the Oilers.

1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals

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    The Flyers swept the Rangers and ended their championship reign.
    The Flyers swept the Rangers and ended their championship reign.Kevin Larkin

    The Flyers made the playoffs in 1995 for the first time since 1989 and met the Rangers in the postseason for the first time since 1987. Although the Rangers were the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Flyers finished 13 points ahead of them during the strike-shortened 1994-95 campaign.

    The Rangers jumped ahead 2-0 in Game 1, but John LeClair scored three times to help send the game to overtime, where Eric Desjardins' second goal of the game won it for Philadelphia.

    Game 2 started off in a similar fashion with New York taking a 2-0 lead, but the Flyers regrouped and took a 3-2 advantage on Mikael Renberg's goal just 25 seconds into the third period.

    Brian Leetch scored his third goal of the game to force overtime, but that's where the Rangers' magic ran out, and Philadelphia won the game just 25 seconds into the extra session on Kevin Haller's third goal of the playoffs. Eric Lindros had a goal and two assists for Philadelphia.

    The Rangers hoped a change of scenery would help them, but it seemed to have the opposite effect. Kevin Dineen scored twice while Hextall made 32 saves as the Flyers cruised to a 5-2 win and a 3-0 series lead.

    The Flyers completed the sweep in Game 4 with a 4-1 road win. Karl Dykhuis scored twice in the first period and the Flyers never looked back.

    The Rangers reign as champions was over, while the Flyers moved on to face the New Jersey Devils in the Easter Conference Final.


1997 Eastern Conference Final

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    The Flyers beat Gretzky in his final playoff series.
    The Flyers beat Gretzky in his final playoff series.RUSTY KENNEDY

    The most recent time the Flyers and Rangers collided in the playoffs came in the 1997 Eastern Conference Final.

    The Flyers featured Lindros and the "Legion of Doom" line at its height, while the Rangers were led by the aging but still dynamic duo of Mark Messier and Gretzky.

    The Flyers took Game 1 in Philadelphia 3-1. Garth Snow made 24 saves while Lindros assisted on all three goals for the Orange and Black.

    Gretzky rallied the Rangers to a 5-4 victory in Game 2 to even the series at 1-1. "The Great One" registered his final playoff hat trick of his illustrious career by scoring three goals on Snow. Hextall replaced Snow midway through the game and did not allow another goal.

    Lindros answered back in Game 3, scoring three goals of his own and leading Philadelphia to a 6-3 win. Hextall made 25 saves to earn the win.

    Game 4 was key. The Rangers needed to win to send the series back to Philadelphia even at 2-2. Instead, the Flyers got a clutch goal by Lindros with just seven seconds left in the third period to give them a 3-2 win and a 3-1 series lead. Leetch had tied the game with just 2:08 left in the third period before Lindros' heroics ended the game.

    The Flyers clinched the series win and a berth in the Stanley Cup Final with a 4-2 win back in Philadelphia. Rod Brind'Amour scored the final two goals of the game, while Hextall stopped 17 shots.

    The Flyers were swept in the Stanley Cup Final by the Detroit Red Wings, and coach Terry Murray was let go shortly after the series ended.