A history of California road trips for the Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images/NHLI)
Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images/NHLI) /

Ever since the Anaheim Ducks, originally known as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, arrived in the NHL for the 1993-94 season, the Philadelphia Flyers have made a roughly biennial pilgrimage to California for a three-game road swing against each of the teams from the Golden State — the San Jose Sharks, the Los Angeles Kings, and the aforementioned (Mighty) Ducks.

It’s been “roughly biennial” (every two years) for a host of reasons — shortened campaigns due to multiple NHL lockouts and some tinkering with the schedule format, to name a few — as the Flyers have completed the California circuit 13 times over the past three decades. Now, as they kick off their latest endeavor over the next few days, we can take a trip down Flyers memory lane to remember some of the good and bad that the Orange and Black have experienced on the Left Coast.

Feb. 15-18, 1994 (2-1)

The Flyers’ first-ever three-game swing through Cali began with a win at San Jose, but they dropped their game in Anaheim the following night. Dominic Roussel was shelled for six goals in a 6-3 loss, which was the first-ever meeting between these two clubs. The Flyers did manage to salvage a winning trip with a victory in LA two nights later.

Oct. 13-17, 1997 (1-1-1)

One of each for the Flyers, as they scored an OT win in San Jose thanks to Eric Lindros, tied Anaheim, and then were thumped 5-1 by the Kings.

Nov. 3-6, 1999 (2-0-1)

The Flyers managed to go undefeated during this swing. They tied Anaheim to start the trip, a 3-3 deadlock that saw all six goals scored in the second period. They’d go on to win 3-1 in San Jose and then polish things off with a 5-3 victory over the Kings, during which they allowed just 18 shots.

Dec. 30, 2002 – Jan. 3, 2003 (2-1)

The calendar year ended on a sour note, as the Flyers fell 2-1 in San Jose. But they started 2003 off strong with wins on back-to-back nights. First, they defeated the Kings 4-1, with three of the Flyers goals coming from Tomi Kallio, Andre Savage, and Pavel Brendl. This was notable because these players accounted for a grand total of nine goals in their Flyers careers, with three of those coming in this game. The following night, the Flyers shut out the Mighty Ducks 1-0 behind 28 saves by Robert Esche.

Oct. 16-22, 2003 (0-1-1-1)

I’m not sure if this should count, because the league oddly decided to make the Flyers go play a game in Phoenix after playing in San Jose but before continuing on to LA and Anaheim. The Flyers won the game in Phoenix, but the California part was a disaster. After playing to a scoreless tie in San Jose to start the trip, the Flyers returned from Arizona and lost in regulation to the Kings and in overtime to the Mighty Ducks. That leaves us with the odd “0-1-1-1” mark for the trip, as this occurred during the time period when the NHL had four standings columns since they were awarding points for overtime losses but hadn’t gotten rid of ties yet.

Nov. 15-18, 2006 (2-1)

A month into the season, the Flyers were terrible and the Ducks were looking great, with just one regulation loss so far. And while the newly christened “Anaheim Ducks” outshot the Flyers 41-16 in this one, the Flyers came away with a 7-4 win. The Ducks, however, made out fine in the end — they won the Stanley Cup that season, while the Flyers finished dead last. The Flyers managed a come-from-behind win in Los Angeles the following night, but they ran out of gas and were pounded 6-1 by the Sharks in their next game.

Jan. 30-Feb. 3, 2014 (2-1)

Making their first full trip through the Golden State in over seven years, the Flyers lost 5-3 in Anaheim before rattling off a 2-0 win in LA (Steve Mason shutout) and a 5-2 win in San Jose.

Dec. 2-6, 2014 (1-1-1)

The Flyers’ second Cali swing in the same calendar year wasn’t as successful. A 2-1 regulation loss in San Jose was followed by a 5-4 shootout setback in Anaheim. The Flyers recovered with a 2-1 win over the Kings to save some face.

Dec. 27, 2015 – Jan. 2, 2016 (0-3)

An abject disaster for the Flyers, as they dropped 4-2 decisions to the Ducks and Sharks, then lost 2-1 to the Kings to come away from a California trip pointless for the first time.

Oct. 4-7, 2017 (2-1)

The Flyers began their season with a California gauntlet for the first time, and they did well. They downed the Sharks 5-3 on opening night thanks to a Wayne Simmonds hat trick. A 2-0 loss to the Kings followed the next night, but they rebounded to beat the Ducks 3-2 in overtime, with Simmonds providing the heroics once again.

Oct. 30-Nov. 3, 2018 (2-0-1)

Another success here, as the Flyers won 3-2 in Anaheim, 5-2 in LA, and then managed a point in a 4-3 overtime loss in San Jose.

Dec. 28-31, 2019 (1-2)

The Flyers were rolling during the Christmas break, but they were humbled a bit during this trip. San Jose blew them out 6-1, and LA beat them 5-3 after tallying four first period goals. These two losses sandwiched an OT win in Anaheim, where Kevin Hayes picked up the winner.

Dec. 30, 2021 – Jan. 4, 2022 (0-2-1)

This marked the third time that the Flyers rang in the new year during the California road trifecta. To kick off the trip, Felix Sandstrom was great in his first NHL start, but the Flyers still lost 3-2 in overtime to the Sharks. The Flyers then lost 6-3 in LA and 4-1 in Anaheim to come away from a California trip winless for just the third time in 13 attempts. On a larger scale, the three losses kicked off a losing streak that would eventually stretch to 13 games, turning the Flyers’ season from “merely bad” to a complete dumpster fire.

Dec. 29, 2022 – Jan. 2, 2023 (???)

As we embark on the latest Flyers California trip, the 14th in franchise history, it might be too ambitious to hope for the Orange and Black to sweep their way through the Golden State for the first time ever. But let’s at least hope that they don’t come out the other side completely battered and broken. In their 39 “California swing” games in franchise history, the Flyers have thus far accumulated 17 wins, 15 regulation losses, 3 ties (when those existed), and 4 OT/shootout losses, good for 41 points during that time. It remains to be seen what they’ll write in the next chapter of this franchise’s California history.

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