Let’s face it, last night’s first period produced one of the most unexpected, bitter, deflating moments in Flyers playoff history.
Anyone who knows me in the real world or through this site knows that a) I’m not one to wallow in the failure of a sports team and b) history is never too far away, so I thought 24 hours after the start of Game 5, it’s a perfect time to provide perspective and reminisce about some of the other plays in recent postseasons past (1980 forward) which will live in infamy in the hearts and minds of the Faithful.
#1 Ilya Bryzgalov and David Clarkson, May 8, 2012. Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
A miscommunication gone horribly wrong leads to the go-ahead goal in the clinching game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals:
Despite what the CBC color man believes, it is not an accident waiting to happen. That’s pretty much instantaneous revisionist history. Kimmo Timonen had more space behind him and a goaltender who has enough skill to flip the puck back to him or behind him to the open defenseman on the opposite side if Clarkson is not pursuing. Instead, Bryzgalov makes the worst decision yet in a Flyers uniform and a dark legend is born. Why he could not, or did not, see Timonen’s partner on the opposite side of the ice will remain an unanswered question.
#2 and #3 Denis Potvin and Clark Gillies, May 24, 1980. Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The first incident occurs at the 24-second mark where it appears Potvin’s stick was raised above the crossbar to bat in a rebound attempt past Pete Peeters for New York’s first goal.
The second, and by far the most infamous, happens at 38 seconds. Clark Gillies carries the puck up the left wing and dishes back to teammate Butch Goring. Freeze frame at that precise moment and you see how far behind the blue line Goring is — and that linesman Leon Stickle looks on impassively. You can see the Flyers relax and one points to the line, while play rolls on and Duane Sutter eventually roofs a shot home from the right side. That gave the Isles a 2-1 edge. Take away both scores with the correct calls, and it’s a 4-2 win for Philadelphia and a Game 7 back at the Spectrum.
#4 Claude Lemieux, June 11, 1995. Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Ron Hextall made innumerable key saves during his two Philadelphia tenures, but he had almost as many clunkers, easy goals that should have been stopped. This was one of them. After the Flyers, scratching and clawing their way past the neutral-zone trap, tied the game in the third period, Lemieux takes a long-range saveable shot that was not going to go wide, and Hextall just leaned into it without any thought or effort (:39). John Davidson was right: this was one he should be responsible for.
With 44.2 seconds remaining, it was frustratingly too little time to mount a comeback. Though Jim Montgomery scored first in the deciding Game 6, there wasn’t enough in the tank to overcome the real team of destiny that season.
#5 Scott Stevens on Eric Lindros, May 26, 2000. Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The letdown of all letdowns, in the terminal contest of another miracle playoff run. It’s simple really, Lindros never learned to keep his head up, and Stevens never backed off an obvious opportunity. Though Rick Tocchet scored the tying goal in the second and Patrik Elias won it late in the third, this hit was the final chapter of the Lindros saga as a player in Philadelphia:
#6 Darren McCarty vs Janne Niinimaa and Hextall, June 7, 1997. Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Clinging desperately to a one-goal deficit on the road, and down 0-3 after their head coach said his team was in a “choking situation,” the spectre of winning was diminished in the second period. That’s when McCarty — not Steve Yzerman or Sergei Fedorov or Tomas Sandstrom or Brendan Shanahan — picked up the goal of his career:
All the Orange and Black could muster was Lindros’ score with 15 seconds left in regulation, a lame capper on a painful four-game sweep.
#7 Patrick Kane, June 9, 2010. Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Quite possibly the worst title-clinching score in NHL history. Only Kane and Patrick Sharp appeared to know and express what really happened. Broadcasters for both teams as well as American and Canadian talent had no idea how the thing ended. Having it happen on home ice, in the final round, to end the season made it even more crippling: