By my count (I stayed up all night on hockey-reference.com researching this), it marks the 22nd time in Flyers history the team has held such a series lead.
Philly has advanced to the next round in 19 of the previous 21 occurrences of such a lead, blowing it in both the 1999-00 Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils, as well as the 1987-88 Patrick Division Semifinals, facing off with the Washington Capitals.
While those two obviously stand out, there have been twelve instances in which the Broad Street Bullies did not screw around, and ended a series in which they lead 3-1 in five games.
Three times the Flyers have lead 3-1 in a series against the Habs, and twice they’ve won in five.
I want to use these hours prior to the potentially-decisive fifth game of the opening round to take a look at all the times the orange and black have held a three-games-to-one lead in a playoff series, if for no other reason than what the hell else are we doing? It’s going to be a long wait for that 8:00 (8:20) puck drop.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane.
2011-12 Eastern Conference Quarter-final vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Flyers went up 3-0 in a wild series, but then dropped games four and five.
Game four was a ridiculous 10-3 final- a game the Flyers lead 3-2 with four minutes remaining in the first period before the Pens went on to score 8 unanswered.
Jordan Staal notched a hat trick, while both starting netminder Ilya Bryzgalov, as well as backup Sergei Bobrovsky each allowed five goals on 18 shots.
Realizing where this series was headed, Claude Giroux took it upon himself to ensure the series would not go to a seventh game, annihilating Sidney Crosby with a bodycheck and then scoring a goal all within the game’s first 32 seconds.
Unbeknownst at the time, Philadelphia would not win another playoff series for (at least) eight years. But we did get that awesome highlight package, so...
2009-10 Eastern Conference Finals vs. Montreal Canadiens
Michael Leighton earned a shutout in three of the first 4 games for the 3-1 lead.
With the orange and black trailing 1-0 in the first period thanks to an opening-minute goal by old pal Brian Gionta, Mike Richards tied it to cap-off perhaps the greatest shift in NHL history with a short-handed goal, after which the Flyers never looked back, winning the series in five with the 4-2 victory against Jaroslav Halak’s Montreal Canadiens.
2009-10 Eastern Conference Quarter-final vs. New Jersey Devils
The Flyers won games 1, 3, and 4, with the only memorable highlight being Daniel Carcillo’s game three overtime-winning tally.
In Game 5 the Flyers fell behind 1-0 midway through the first, but Daniel Briere, Jeff Carter (x2), and Carcillo combined for four unanswered to propel Philly to their epic second-round matchup with the Boston Bruins.
2007-08 Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Montreal Canadiens
The Flyguys lost Game 1 in OT because of a Montreal Typical (™) B.S. call against Mike Richards in the third period that allowed the Habs to tie it (it’s not in the video, you’ll have to take my word for it), in the same game as a ridiculously obvious high-stick goal was allowed.
But Philadelphia won the next four straight by a combined score of 17-10, earning a trip to the ECF for the first time since 2004 — the Flyers actually trailed in Game 5, down 3-1, before five goals in the final 26 minutes of the regulation sent Philly to the Final Four.
2007-08 Eastern Conference Quarter-final vs. Washington Capitals
The Flyers lost the series-opener to the Caps in a game best remembered for Patrick Thoreson blocking a shot with his testicles protecting a one-goal lead in the third period.
No good deed goes unpunished however, as Thoreson laid prone on the ice with no intervention from the officials, allowing Mike Green to score his second consecutive goal in what was essentially a 5-on-3 situation. Alex Ovechkin then scored the winner with less than five minutes remaining for his first career playoff marker.
But the Flyers rebounded with three straight victories, highlighted by Mike Knuble’s game four goal in double-overtime.
Unfortunately for the boys from Broad Street, they were unable to close out Games 5 and 6, even blowing a two-goal lead in the latter. Ovechkin again tied the game late but it was Joffrey Lupul who had the last laugh, notching a rebound goal to propel Philadelphia to the second round.
2003-04 Eastern Conference Quarter-final vs. New Jersey Devils
The Flyers won Games 1, 2, 4 and 5, putting the Devils away with haste thanks to Game 5 goals by Alex Zhamnov, Danny Markov, and Sami Kapanen. What a freakin’ crew.
1999-00 Eastern Conference Finals vs New Jersey Devils
And, of course...
1999-00 Eastern Conference Quarter-finals vs. Buffalo Sabres
The orange and black won the first three games and put it away in five in a series best remembered for John LeClair firing a shot through the side of the net in game two.
The Flyers lead each of their first three series 3-1 en route to an Eastern Conference title, and Stanley Cup Final berth, and won each series in five games.
In the first two rounds against Pittsburgh and Buffalo they went up 3-0 in the series, lost Game 4, then won both Games 5 by a score of 6-3.
In the ECF, Philly split the first two at home before winning the next three.
Eric Lindros scored 5 goals in those final three games against the New York Rangers, including a Game 3 hat trick at The World’s Most Famous Train Station.
1994-95 Eastern Conference Quarter-final vs. Buffalo Sabres
The orange and black handled the Sabres in five games, dropping only the third.
In Big E’s Hart Trophy season, he played in only Games 4 and 5 of his Stanley Cup Playoff debut series, but managed five points — good enough for second-most amongst all skaters in the series (Alexander Mogilny, 5 points in 5 games; Rod Brind’Amour, 8 points in 5 games).
1987-88 Patrick Division Semifinals vs. Washington Capitals
After winning three of the first four, the Flyers lost three straight, including Game 7 in overtime — a feat they nearly replicated perfectly 20 years later.
1986-87 Prince of Whales Conference Finals vs. Montreal Canadiens
Philly got up 3-1 before dropping Game 5 but redeeming themselves in six.
1986-87 Patrick Division Finals vs. New York Islanders
The Flyers took a commanding 3-1 series lead before dropping both Games 5 and 6 to Isles. Luckily they got the job done in seven.
1984-85 Patrick Division Finals vs. New York Islanders
Philadelphia went up 3-0 and finished the fake New York team off in five.
The Flyers built 3-1 leads in both the quarter-finals against the Rangers and the semifinals against the Minnesota North Stars, winning both series in five games.
1977-78 Quarter-finals vs. Buffalo Sabres
A five-game triumph.
1975-76 Quarter-finals vs. Boston Bruins
Following a Game 1 loss the Flyers took four straight.
1974-75 Semifinals vs. New York Islanders
The Flyers and Islanders exchanged three-game winning streaks, forcing a seventh game which the Flyers, 4-1, at the Spectrum.
1973-74 Stanley Cup Final vs. Boston Bruins
Philadelphia won three straight after dropping the first of the series, then lost Game 5 before clinching the Stanley Cup in the sixth on the back of a Bernie Parent shutout.