With just two more days remaining in the decade, it’s time for reflection on one of the more controversial decades in Flyers history. The team began the decade by reaching the Stanley Cup Final, then just one offseason later, trading their captain and leading goal scorer. The team would go through a lengthy rebuild, a head coach widely despised by the fanbase, and overall a boat load of mediocrity. But, there were plenty of memorable moments from this decade, ones that Flyers fans will not soon forget.
1. 2010 Eastern Conference Semi-Final, Game 7
I mean, come on, was there any question this would be number one? This game wasn’t just amazing because they came back down 3-0 in the series, or even 3-0 in the game, but the fact they changed goalies midway through the series. After the Flyers won game four in Philadelphia on a Simon Gagne overtime goal, they got off to a hot start in game five before Brian Boucher who was in for the injured Michael Leighton, went down on this play.
So, in stepped Leighton to retake the reins, and boy did he ever. He combined with Boucher to shut out the Bruins in game five, and allowed just one goal in game six to set up game seven in Boston, as the Flyers attempted to make history. They’d go down 3-0 in the blink of an eye, and then something incredible happened. James van Riemsdyk made it 3-1 on a fluke goal at the end of the first period, early in the second Scott Hartnell made it 3-2, and then Danny Briere tied it on a wraparound tally. They’d tied it, but the task of coming all the way back still laid ahead, that was capped off by Simon Gagne, the same one who scored the goal to begin the comeback in game four, scored one of the greatest goals in Flyers history to finish it.
2. 2010 Stanley Cup Final, Game 3
Can’t have a top games of the decade list without this one, that’s for sure. The Flyers were heading home for the first Stanley Cup Final game in Philadelphia since 1997, but they were down 2-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks after a gong show in game one, and a low-scoring affair in game two. The Flyers needed to win game three to get back in the series, and they did so in breathtaking fashion.
It would be a back-and-forth affair, with the Blackhawks storming back to tie the game every time the Flyers took it, and even taking the lead themselves on a Patrick Kane breakaway goal early in the third. But as the 2009-10 Flyers team had done all season, they battled back and quickly tied the game on a Ville Leino goal. They would go to overtime where a then 22-year old Claude Giroux called game, and scored the biggest goal of his then very brief NHL career.
3. Game 82
The first regular season game to make the list, and very deserving of it. The 2009-10 Flyers were a roller coaster, acquiring Chris Pronger and Ray Emery in the offseason, appearing to be destined for a return to the Final. Well, while they did get there, it wasn’t the most conventional path. After a hot start faded, head coach John Stevens was let go, and Peter Laviolette (recently fired by the Carolina Hurricanes) was brought aboard. Although they struggled at first under Laviolette — including the first game under him which ended in an 8-2 loss — they would rally down the stretch. Games 81 and 82 would be against their division rivals, the New York Rangers.
Game 81 would be a 4-3 loss to New York, setting up game 82, a “win and you’re in” situation. What followed was a truly exciting hockey game, and one of the most memorable games in Flyers history. The Flyers bombed 47 shots on Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped 46 of them. Brian Boucher held the fort for the Flyers, stopping 24 of 25. It looked ugly at the start, with Jody Shelley (yes, that Jody Shelley) scoring just under four minutes into the game, and in the second straight game. Just about seven minutes into the third period, the Rangers still clung to a one goal lead with the Flyers charging, that’s when Matt Carle scored arguably the biggest goal of his life.
The two teams would not score in the overtime, setting up a shootout to decide the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Heading into this game, the Flyers were 3-3 on the season in shootouts, which honestly is surprising given how traditionally bad this team has been at them. What followed was everything Gary Bettman and co. could have dreamed for when introducing the shootout after the 2004-05 lockout.
For me personally, this was the true start of my diehard fandom with the Flyers. I had really only started to get into hockey during the 2007-08 season, but this team, and this game, really sealed it for me. The shootout still sucks, but for one day in April 10 years ago, it was the best damn thing about the sport.
4. 2010 Eastern Conference Final, Game 5
I know you’re probably thinking, “alright is this list just going to be games from 2010?” The answer to that would be no, but if it was, would it really be that bad? Regardless, this is the last one from the 2010 team, and it’s a great one. The Flyers had dominated the Montreal Canadiens, another cinderella story, in games one and two of the series behind back-to-back shutouts from Michael Leighton. Leighton had been stellar since coming back into the starter role in relief of Brian Boucher, and the Flyers were now just one game away from the Stanley Cup Final.
Brian Gionta scored just 59 seconds in, but the captain had an answer, and one of the greatest goals in team history. Mike Richards started the shorthanded shift by knocking the hell out of Marc-Andre Bergeron along the boards, leading a 3-on-2 rush the other way setting up a Braydon Coburn shot. Jaroslav Halak who was possibly the only goalie at that point who could dream of outplaying Leighton, made the stop, and the Canadiens marched the other way. Giroux dug a puck out of the corner, and flipped a long pass to Richards, and the rest is history.
Say what you will about Richards, but that dude gave 110 percent every single time he stepped on the ice for this team, he was the definition of a captain. Aaron Asham, who somehow had like five good scoring chances in this game, would convert on one of them for the second goal, and Jeff Carter finished a beautiful passing play for the third. Scott Gomez would make it a one goal game early in the third, but it wouldn’t matter, this team wasn’t going to let the opportunity slip away to clinch the East on home ice.
5. 2012 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, Games 3 and 6
Alright am I cheating with this? Yes, but I didn’t want to have two games from this series take up two whole spots on the countdown. Let’s start with game three.
Also known as the time the Flyers and Penguins literally almost murdered each other in a playoff game. This game was arguably one of the most insane games in hockey history, and a grand total of 158 penalty minutes between the two teams. The series started with a bang, as the Flyers came back down 3-0 in game one to win 4-3 in overtime on a Jakub Voracek goal. This team had been the comeback kids all season, and it was continuing into the playoffs.
In game two, Giroux and a rookie Sean Couturier had dueling hat tricks, in a wild back-and-forth affair that ended with an 8-5 Flyers win. They were clearly in the head of Marc-Andre Fleury, and that carried over to game three. Jordan Staal struck first for Pittsburgh, but the Flyers would storm back for three goals of their own, started by a shorthanded goal from Maxime Talbot. With the Flyers up 3-1, the rough stuff began. Brayden Schenn absolutely leveled Paul Martin in the corner, and Aaron Asham being who he is, cross-checked Schenn in the throat as a response.
While I could attempt to break down and explain all of the other tomfoolery that happened in this game, I think letting you watch and reminisce for yourselves is the better option. So sit back, and enjoy some Old Time Hockey.
The Flyers would win 8-4, and go on to win the series over the Penguins in six games. Game six will forever be remembered for Giroux nailing Sidney Crosby off the opening faceoff, and scoring just 32 seconds in. If there was any doubt he was going to be the next captain of the team, that was put to rest with that one shift. Giroux had set the tone, and given his team the lead. They’d dominate Pittsburgh, winning 5-1. This was the last playoff series the team has won, and you gotta give em’ credit for this at least, they made it one hell of a series.
6. 2014 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, Game 6
Wayne Simmonds made himself a fan favorite the moment he arrived in Philadelphia, and promptly beating the shit out of David Clarkson in just his second game in the orange and black. Just two seasons later, he was practically single-handedly willing the Flyers to game seven vs. the Rangers in the first round. The 2013-14 Flyers saw another coaching change, with Laviolette being fired just three games in, and assistant coach Craig Berube stepping in. The team rallied under Chief, and made the playoffs as the three seed in the Metro Division.
The Flyers were down 3-2 in the series after dropping game five in New York by a score of 4-2. Steve Mason returned mid-series for the Flyers after being injured down the stretch in the regular season. Although Ray Emery wasn’t bad, we knew Mase was going to give the team the best chance of winning. In game six, Simmonds and Mason dominated the Rangers, with the former scoring a playoff hat trick.
Mason stopped 34 of the 36 Rangers shots flung his way, including this dazzling stop on Carl Hagelin, which served as the exclamation point on a huge win. Although the Flyers would go on to lose game seven, this win was by far one of the more exciting moments from the decade.
7. 2016 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, Game 5
Also known as Michal Neuvirth turning into superman and winning the game by himself.
Neuvirth’s tenure in Philadelphia will be remembered large in part for how often he was injured, but this game was by far his greatest performance. The Flyers had gone down 3-0 to the Washington Capitals in Dave Hakstol’s first season as head coach of the team, and were just days removed from the death of owner and founder, Ed Snider. Emotions were high on the team, and in the fanbase, and no one was ready for this season to be over.
Shayne Gostisbehere had taken the league by storm, and was electrifying to watch with his overtime goals, and offensive abilities. They had won game four by a score of 2-1, and the offense wasn’t showing many signs of picking up anytime soon. Neuvirth would have to be essentially perfect for the Flyers to stay alive in the series, and he was exactly that. Stopping all 44 shots, Neuvirth shut out the Caps to extend the series to game six. The Flyers only put 10 shots on Braden Holtby, but Ryan White’s goal in the second period would be all Neuvy needed.
8. 2012 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, Game 1
Serving as the game with the final playoff overtime goal of the decade for the Flyers, this was about the only good thing from that Devils series. The Flyers were coming off the bloodbath aforementioned vs. Pittsburgh, and now faced the sixth seed New Jersey Devils. Although this would be the Flyers’ only win in the series, it was the ending to this game that gets it on the countdown.
Danny Briere appeared to have scored the winning goal in overtime, but upon replay review it was clear he had kicked in the puck. So what did Briere do? Oh, just score the winning goal for real shortly thereafter. There was no more satisfying Briere fist pump than this one right here.
9. Game 2, 2019 home opener
Yeah, you’re damn right I’m putting this one on the list. Listen, we’ve been put through hell these past five or six years with this team, and you could even argue the entire decade. There’s no telling how far the Flyers will go this season, but at the very least, I feel confident in saying they’re heading in the right direction. The 2019 home opener didn’t just feel like a satisfying 4-0 win over a divisional rival. It felt like change, and change for the better.
There was no better way for this team to begin the home season, especially after losing 8-2 in the home opener the previous year, than to have Carter Hart stand on his head and shut out the New Jersey Devils. Not to mention the fact four different players scored, including newcomer Kevin Hayes, really showing how deep this team is/was. There’s been a lot of injuries since then, but this team has proven to be resilient as hell, and are going to at the very least give us effort more often than not.
Oh, and Hart’s save on Taylor Hall, that shit was pretty awesome.
10. 2011 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, Game 6
I hesitated putting this on the list, because man I try to forget about the playoffs this team went through. The 2010-11 Flyers were dominate for a healthy portion of the season, but around March, the team began to falter a bit. Although they would still clinch the Atlantic Division crown, there were some concerns heading into the playoffs. Regardless, they were the second seed in the East, and facing the Buffalo Sabres in round one.
The Sabres, being the pesky, annoying team that they are, made this series a living hell for the Flyers. Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky was strong in game one, only allowing one goal, but Ryan Miller was better, shutting out the orange and black. Game two would be a polar opposite, with Bobrovsky struggling allowing three goals on just seven shots, and giving way to Brian Boucher. The Flyers offense would come to life, scoring five goals and securing a 5-4 win tying the series heading to Buffalo. They’d win game three with Boucher in net, but would be shut out again in game four by Miller. With the series tied heading to Philly for game five, all hell broke loose.
This time it was Boucher being pulled, after allowing three goals on 11 shots. But it wouldn’t be Bobrovsky taking his place, rather Michael Leighton who had only played one game for the team all season. Leighton had been recovering from back surgery in the offseason, but now was being asked to save the Flyers. After the goalie change, the Flyers battled all the way back to tie the game at three, with Leighton stopping 20 of 21 shots, the one he didn’t was a Tyler Ennis shot in overtime. The Sabres would head to Buffalo up 3-2 ready to pull off the upset, and that’s when Ville Leino played hero.
Leighton started game six after his efforts in game five, and promptly allowed three goals on eight shots. Are you noticing a theme here?
Boucher stepped back in, and performed well, and the Flyers offense lead by goals from van Riemsdyk, Briere, and Hartnell got them to overtime. And then Leino, a deadline pickup just one season prior, was coming up huge in the playoffs for the second year in a row.
The Flyers would win game seven, and then nothing happened after that, like hockey was just cancelled it’s really weird. There certainly wasn’t a sweep that occurred and massive trades that changed the entire shape of the decade, including signing a weird goalie that said some shit about the universe. Nah, none of that shit happened.
So there you have it, the top 10 Flyers games from the past decade. It certainly hasn’t been the greatest decade of Flyers hockey, and much of the good from the past 10 years happened towards the beginning. But, things are looking brighter folks, and it looks like we have a legitimately good team on our hands. Let’s hope we start the 2020’s with as much of a bang as the 2010’s.