Flyers reflect on thrilling run to Cup finals
Jeff Carter walks by a framed photo of the Philadelphia Flyers’
1975 championship parade every day before practice.
It’s a black-and-white snapshot of an era when 2 million fans
packed the streets to celebrate the second of Philadelphia’s
back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. But the picture is a
melancholy reminder that their “Broad Street Bullies” heyday as
the dominant team in the NHL was 35 years ago.
Carter and the rest of the Eastern Conference champion Flyers
hope to add a little color with a new picture on the walls at their
practice rink – and a championship banner raised high above home
“It’s something that you kind of throw in the back of your mind
that it’s something to work toward, for sure,” Carter said.
The Flyers are four wins away from being the guests of honor at
another downtown parade. The Flyers took Tuesday off but used it to
reflect on a stunning postseason run that has them in the Stanley
Cup finals for the first time in 13 years. It’s no surprise they
expect to beat the Chicago Blackhawks when the Stanley Cup finals
open Saturday in Chicago.
Their run has been as exciting as any in team history: From a
shootout win in the regular-season finale to clinch the seventh
seed, to beating New Jersey and all-time wins leader Martin
Brodeur, a colossal comeback from a 3-0 series deficit to stun
Boston, and eliminating the just-as-surprising Montreal Canadiens
to reach the finals.
“We’re a team that’s built for the big games,” forward Danny
Briere is near the top of a list of Flyers veterans who wondered
if they’d ever get their chance at hoisting the Cup.
Briere lost in three straight Eastern Conference finals (two
with Buffalo, once with Philly) over a 13-year career. Ian
Laperriere was 0 for 17 years. Kimmo Timonen was a captain and an
All-Star in eight years with Nashville without ever playing in the
finals, then was traded to the Flyers in 2007.
“Every summer you think, is this going to be my year,” Timonen
said. “Is it ever going to be? Twelve years is a long time. This
might be my only chance, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Simon Gagne, only 30, is considered an old-timer in the Flyers’
locker room. He intends to seek out young players like 22-year-old
Claude Giroux and 21-year-old James van Reimsdyk and pass along
Don’t waste this opportunity or take the finals for granted
because it may not come around again.
Gagne knows better than most, playing on a Flyers team that
squandered a 3-1 Eastern Conference finals lead to New Jersey in
“When I was 19, I didn’t really think about it,” Gagne said.
“Who knows, it might be the only chance for those guys, too.”
Gagne has been around Philadelphia long enough to understand how
much Flyers fans love and appreciate their favorite teams from the
past. Gagne was part of three Flyers’ losses in the conference
finals (2000, 2004, 2008) and a member of the worst team in Flyers
history in 2006-07. They set team records for most losses
(22-48-12) and fewest points (56).
Look at the orange-and-black now.
Orange-and-black-and blue has been more appropriate in this
Gagne returned from a broken toe to win Game 4 with an overtime
goal against Boston. Carter scored two goals in Monday’s Game 5
clincher against Montreal – after breaking his right foot last
month. Ian Laperriere was thought out for the postseason with a
brain contusion and mild concussion after he was hit by a puck
blocking a shot.
When the Flyers lost goalie Brian Boucher in the semifinals with
a sprained MCL in his left knee, Michael Leighton filled in with
three shutouts against Montreal.
“When everything was on the line, we seemed to be able to get
the best out of everybody,” Briere said. “It’s hard to explain, I
don’t know why it’s like that. I wish we could play the same way
for 82 games and every single game in the playoffs, but we all know
On the morning of April 11, the Flyers seemed headed toward an
early vacation. It wasn’t until Boucher stopped New York Rangers
forward Olli Jokinen in the final round of the shootout that the
Flyers earned a place in the postseason.
“Game 82 was probably the most pressure-filled game of the
season so far,” coach Peter Laviolette said.
Yes, that included Games 4-7 against Boston when a loss would
have ended their season.
It’s been a team effort to get this far, and it needs to
continue if the Flyers hope to have Lord Stanley’s Cup in their
“I can’t imagine how the big trophy feels,” Laperriere