The Philadelphia Flyers are preparing to host the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. While every opponent offers challenges, this particular team brings with it a history of postseason punch.
Three Cup trips
Since the Colorado Rockies moved to New Jersey and became the Devils to start the 1982-83 season, they have met the Flyers four times in the postseason. Three of those four meetings led to Stanley Cup appearances for the opponents.
The Devils beat the Flyers in the 1995 Conference Finals 4-2 and then went on to sweep the Detroit Red Wings to win their first-ever Cup.
In 2000, the Flyers famously held a 3-1 lead in the series before the Devils took the last three games. The Devils then beat the Dallas Stars 4-2 in the Cup Final.
In 2004, the Flyers defeated the Devils 4-1 in the Quarterfinals. Philadelphia then beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 in the Semifinals. That series ended as a result of Jeremy Roenick's thrilling overtime goal.
Sami Kapanen had been checked so hard by Darcy Tucker that he literally couldn't maintain his balance, so Keith Primeau helped him make it to the bench. That's when 'J.R.' leaped onto the ice to replace him. After an initial goal-scoring attempt by Mark Recchi, Roenick's return rush sent the Flyers to a Conference Finals confrontation with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
That subsequent anguishing seven-game series loss has thus far been the only postseason year that did not end with either the Flyers, or the Devils advancing to the Cup Final after they had faced each other along the way.
In 2010, the Flyers defeated the Devils 4-1 in the Quarterfinals. Then, they historically came back to beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 in the Semifinals, before easily dropping the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 in the Conference Finals. But, apparent postseason destiny was derailed when the Chicago Blackhawks stopped the Flyers 4-2 in that season's Cup Final.
Kansas City days
The Kansas City Scouts are the original franchise ancestor of the Devils. That expansion team played its initial season (1974-75) when the Flyers beat the Buffalo Sabres to capture their second Stanley Cup.
After only spending two seasons in Kansas, the franchise was sold and moved to Colorado where they played as the Rockies from 1976 through 1982. (It's rather interesting that an expansion major league baseball team adopted that old nickname years later. But, that sidebar should not be further developed in this hockey column.)
What is important, is that the hockey Rockies only playoff appearance came in 1978. At that time, each of the four division winners received a first round playoff bye.
The Flyers won the three-game preliminary round series by defeating the Rockies 2-0. The first closely played contest in Philadelphia ended 3-2 in overtime. The Flyers won the clinching game 3-1 in Colorado.
Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He has written professionally for over two decades and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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