Sometimes it’s hard to believe, but the Flyers have played in eight Stanley Cup Finals in their illustrious history and who knows if a ninth trip is on the horizon if/when the NHL decides (and is able) to resume the currently paused 2019-20 season.
Of course four of those trips came in the 1970’s where the Flyers went to three-straight finals, winning the first two and then getting swept by the juggernaut Canadiens to close the 1976 season.
Three years and a tough coaching change later, the Flyers were back in the finals with Pat Quinn behind the bench in 1980 after taking over the reigns from Fred Shero following several disappointing finishes.
The move was controversial, but a prudent one as Quinn’s first full season behind the bench produced 116 points —second most in franchise history— and went 11-2 in the playoffs on the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
One of the teams the Flyers steamrolled on the way to the finals was the Minnesota North Stars, including a 7-3 massacre on May 8th in 1980. Some of the holdovers from the Flyers’ first Stanley Cups led the way as Bobby Clarke had three points, Bill Barber and Reggie Leach both scored twice, and Rick MacLeish added a goal and an assist in the rout.
The win eliminated the Stars in five games after the Flyers lost game one, and sent the Orange and Black to the Stanley Cup Finals to face the underdog Islanders.
The problem was that the Islanders were just peaking and about to embark on a dynasty in their own right, winning four-straight Stanley Cups. New York would win the series in six games and the Flyers would have to wait until 1985 to return to return to the finals, though they’d find more tough sledding (and terrible luck) in the form of another dynasty in Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers.
The lesson here? Maybe stop running into dynasties?
Also on May 8th in franchise history...Brian Propp scores the game-winning goal as the Flyers take game three in the 1987 Prince of Wales Conference Finals by a final of 4-3 over the Canadiens to take a 2-1 series lead...Ron Hextall makes 36 saves on 39 shots in the win...the Flyers would go on to win game four and take the series in six games.