I’ve been a Flyers/hockey fan since the 1994-95 season. I was in fourth grade, and something about the game just got me hooked. I didn’t start off as a casual fan. I became a diehard right away. And season after season has ended in disappointment. This season, once again, we were just a quick stop along the path to ultimate glory. So here’s a look back at all the times we’ve been knocked out by the eventual champs in the last 16 seasons:
1994-95: New Jersey Devils, Eastern Conference Finals 4-2
That was the season that the Legion of Doom began dominating the hockey world. It was also the year that Jacques Lemaire began to ruin the sport by instituting the trap. The Flyers broke a 5 year playoff drought, and were one of the favorites to go all the way. Brodeur and Stevens kept that dream from happening.
1996-97: Detroit Red Wings, Stanley Cup Finals 4-0
Lindros was widely regarded as on of the top players in the league, if not the best player. LeClair had become a perennial threat to lead the league in goals. Together, the lead the Flyers through the eastern conference and into the Finals against the President Trophy winning Red Wings. Yet, we were favored. Little did we know that we were running into a buzzsaw. Detroit was just starting of their dynasty. And the handled us easily. They systematically destroyed us, limiting Big E to on goal, and that was in the dying minutes of Game 4.
1999-00 New Jersey Devils, Eastern Conference Finals 4-3
Stevens hits Lindros. Flyers blow a 3-1 lead. Let’s move on.
2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning, Eastern Conference Finals 4-3
Roenick scored some big goals along the way. Keith Primeau became a legendary captain. The team won because they were a team, not because they were lead by any superstars anymore. It was about defense, and getting goals from everyone. Unfortunately, by the time they face Tampa, they were out of gas. Gagne helped force a Game 7, but there was nothing left in the tank. Lecavalier, Brad Richards, St. Louis, and the Bulin wall were too much for us in the deciding game.
2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals 4-2
Crosby and Co. were too talented. We could barely hang on. We managed to get a pair of wins, but we were dominated thoroughly. The dream ended quickly before we could even begin. We had a 3-0 lead in game 6, but blew that to end the season.
2009-10 Chicago Blackhawks, Stanley Cup Finals 4-2
The crushing defeat at the finish line hurts, especially because of the path we took to get there. After an up and down regular season where we needed a shootout in the final game to get into the playoffs, the playoffs were a different rollercoaster. We demolished the Devils, made history against Boston by coming back from 3-0 in the series and in Game 7, and then rolled through Montreal. But against the ‘Hawks we went punch for punch, but couldn’t land the big one. They were a mirror image, but managed to do a few things slightly better, and that was the difference. It didn’t help that our starting goalie sucked.
2010-11 Boston Bruins, Eastern Conference Semifinals 4-0
For most of the regular season, we looked nearly unbeatable. Then we got complacent in February and things stared to unravel. A severely overmatched Buffalo Sabres team pushed us to the brink in the first round. After finally pushing them aside, we met Boston. And they thoroughly exorcised the demons from the previous year by destroying us. We barely put up a fight. They pushed us around, crushed us in 3 out of 4 games, and never looked back.
And now here we are. Counting down the days until October, when a new season will arrive. We’ll have some new faces, plenty of familiar old ones. Will that ride end the way it usually does, or will we finally make our dreams come true. Nothing to do now except wait, and wait, and wait…
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Topics: 3-0 Comeback, Boston Bruins, Brad Richards, Bridesmaid, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Eastern Conference Finals, Eastern Conference Quarter Finals, Eastern Conference Semifinals, Eric Lindros, Jacques Lemaire, Jeremy Roenick, John LeClair, Keith Primeau, Legion Of Doom, Martin Brodeur, Martin St. Louis, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, Nikolai Khabibulin, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Playoff Failures, Scott Stevens, Sidney Crosby, Simon Gagne, Stanley Cup, Stanley Cup Finals, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vincent Lecavalier