The Philadelphia Flyers bought out the disappointing RJ Umberger the other day, but 8 years ago his performance was far from disappointing.
Most Philadelphia Flyers fans breathed a sigh of relief when they officially bought out RJ Umberger on Thursday. Umberger had been startlingly unproductive in this stint with the team, showing futility on the ice to the tune of a 50 games between goals. Umberger the NHL player, was fading away.
For better or worse, the NHL is a “what have you done for me lately” league. As such, it is easy to forget that this is Umberger’s second stint with the Flyers. Back in 2005, Umberger made his NHL debut with the Philadelphia Flyers at 23-years old. Then, he put together a solid, 20 goal rookie season.
More from Flyers News
- 5 Philadelphia Flyers training camp battles to watch
- Brent Flahr gives updates on Matvei Michkov, other Flyers prospects
- Flyers could strike trade for blossoming Senators star
- Ex-NHLer: Flyers experiencing the “Keith Jones effect”
- Mark Recchi to be inducted into Flyers Hall of Fame
Fast forward 2 years to the 2007-08 season, and Umberger’s point total hit 50 as the Flyers turned around their historically bad 2006-07 season into a playoff club. As that Flyers team reached the second round of the playoffs, they were the underdogs against the top-seeded Montreal Canadiens.
Nothing seemed too surprising then, when the Flyers dropped game 1 in Montreal by a score of 4-3 in overtime. Umberger, however, actually opened the series scoring in the losing effort.
At the time, nobody had any idea how that was a sign of things to come.
For Game 2, Umberger again opened the scoring, this time breaking up the singing of the Montreal fans who thought the series was theirs for the taking.
Later in the game with the Flyer protecting a 3-2 lead, it was Umberger again finding the net for the insurance goal.
The momentum of the series had changed, and it couldn’t have been more clear as the Philadelphia Flyers jumped out to an early lead in Game 3. Already up 2-0, it was Umberger, again, to make it 3.
Montreal came back with 2 power play goals, but Umberger’s goal was the difference. The underdog Flyers now lead the series 2-1, and Umberger has 4 goals in 3 games.
Montreal needed a win in game 4 to make it a series again. The Canadiens even changed their goalie to spark the team. It didn’t matter who was in the crease though, as Umberger was just too hot. Umberger opened and closed the scoring in this 4-2 Flyers win.
Umberger is now up to 6 goals in 4 games.
With a now 3-1 series, Montreal had nothing to lose in front of the home fans for game 5. Carey Price was back in net for the Canadiens and they even took the early lead. That was before Umberger made his mark. RJ scored to tie the game at 1 with a nice solo effort, and then after Montreal fought back for a 3-1 lead, Umberger scored a determined goal to again tie it at 3.
As the highlights show, game 5 was an eventual 6-4 victory for the Philadelphia Flyers. The Canadiens and their fans were shocked to be eliminated in 5 games, and Umberger had piled up 8 goals in that short time.
As Umberger’s second stint with the Flyers now concludes, it’s a heck of a lot better to remember the younger Umberger scoring like crazy in the playoffs, rather than the older Umberger who couldn’t buy a goal.
Umberger himself still thinks he has a little bit left in the tank, and is happy to play on someone’s 4th line. I’m sure the spirit is willing, although the body might not be. The cumulative total of injuries appear to have slowed him down too much, and some bad luck conspired against him this season on that goal drought.
Even when dealt the bad news, Umberger left a gracious statement to the Philadelphia Flyers and the fans on Twitter. Whether or not this is the end for him in the NHL, Umberger was a class professional, and Flyers fans should choose to remember him for his remarkable performance against the Canadiens in 2008 rather than his struggles in 2015.