The Flyers have had no bigger rivals since the lockout than the Penguins and Capitals, the latter of whom they face tonight in the Wells Fargo Center at 7 p.m. In honor of this renewal, a look back at the five best Flyers-Caps tilts in the past few years.
Dishonorable mention: The 6-5 home opener the Flyers and Ray Emery won in overtime against the Caps on October 6, 2009. There was no defense whatsoever, and most of the goals were soft. It was called epic by some, but was really not all that watchable.
With that out of the way, here comes the good stuff.
I'm guessing people expected this one to be higher on the list, but it was really just more stressful than awesome. But still, it was pretty awesome.
What made it awesome?
- Clearly unhappy with the "Fuck Ovechkin" chants that dominated Game 3, Alex Ovechkin turns to the crowd/glass and screams "Fuck You!" after getting an assist on the first Washington goal. (roughly 1:08)
- Remember how good Jeff Carter actually was? Yeah, this game will remind you of that. Two very, very pretty first period goals.
- Cristobal Huet made some really obscene saves in this one. For my money this was the best the Caps have been in the playoffs in the Ovechkin Era, and it's all due to Huet. He should have gotten more credit for their late-season comeback.
- Mike Knuble. Double OT. 'Nuff said.
4. February 24, 2009 - Flyers 4 at Capitals 2
This game was a relatively meaningless February regular season contest, but the scales tipped into enormous awesomeness for several reasons.
- At 0:27, Mike Richards paninis Tom Poti into the boards, prompting Jim Jackson's famous "Oh My Richards!"
- At 2:17, Claude Giroux's first pretty goal as a Flyer.
- Antero Niittymaki pulled off some absurd saves to keep the Flyers from allowing a shorthanded goal several times, keeping their streak of not having allowed one alive. That streak would finally be broken in Game 82 against the Rangers, a game which pretty much destroyed their post-season.
- A one-goal deficit turns to a two-goal lead in just over three minutes, thanks to some incredibly sexy Arron Asham dangling. I miss Arron Asham. Also, Riley Cote got an assist, which is always amusing and surreal.
3. December 20, 2008 - Capitals 1 at Flyers 7
In their first trip back to Philadelphia since losing to the Flyers in the 2008 playoffs, the Capitals got absolutely defecated on. It was awesome
What made it awesome, specifically:
- If you like fights and still like Donald Brashear, enjoy him kneading his fists hard and fast into Riley Cote's face.
- The Caps got 27 of the game's first 29 shots--and still trailed. At 2:50 of the highlights, a snot-rocket of surrender. Antero Niittymaki was awesome.
- There was a premature hat trick celebration when it looked like Jeff Carter had three, but the error was quickly rectified when Scott Hartnell got a third of his own.
- A fleeting glimpse of Luca Sbisa, followed by Arron Asham dancing on the bench.
2. April 22, 2008 - ECQF Game 7: Flyers 3 at Caps 2 (OT)
With a chance to close out the series at home in Game 6, the Flyers blew a 2-0 lead and seemingly gave the series to the Caps, who had won two straight games and were returning to home ice. I have never been in a worse hockey mood than I was after that Game 6, and seriously debated not using my Game 7 tickets. But I did, and it was awesome.
- The seeing eyes on Scottie Upshall's first period equalizer. Clutch exists, and its name is Scottie Upshall.
- The hilarious awesomeness that was Sami Kapanen's second period goal. After Patrick Thoreson (returning from the pulverization of his testes in Game 1) directed a Caps defenseman into Huet, the net was left yawning for everyone's favorite Finn. I don't know what the rules say about dominoes, but it was fun and surreal stuff. Biron got an assist on the goal, to boot.
- Marty Biron was absolutely phenomenal in the third, most of which these highlights don't show. His performance in this series and in the Montreal series that followed is incredibly underrated in Flyer memory.
- Joffrey Lupul. OTGWG. Series over. There was some rationale from Caps fans after the game that there shouldn't have been a penalty on Tom Poti because the Caps had gotten away with an even more egregious penalty only minutes before, which makes no sense.
- Hugs, handshakes, melancholy Beatles Music.
- Jeff Carter getting hit in the head with a beer bottle, Joffrey Lupul getting hit in the head with a pizza box. As one of about fifteen Flyers fans in attendance that night, I felt obligated to say "stay classy, Washington" as trash flew down onto the ice. My remark prompted the man in front of me to scream "we are classy!!!" before trying to take swings at me. He was eventually restrained by his wife and grandkids.
1. April 15, 2008 - ECQF Game 3: Capitals 3 at Flyers 6
After having missed the playoffs for the first time in over a decade in the 2006-07 season, the Flyers played their first home playoff of the 2008 campaign on Tax Day. And what a game it was.
Everything about this game was phenomenally awesome, and was the most enjoyable Flyers game I have ever witnessed:
- Playmaking from Donald Brashear? Why not.
- Four goals on four shots. Efficient.
- The Mike Richards penalty shot was as loud as I have heard a Philadelphia crowd ever. And what a move. And what a celebration.
- The win gave the Flyers their first lead in a playoff series since the second round of the 2004 playoffs.
Will tonight's tilt earn a spot in this pantheon? Unlikely. But one can hope.