The Philadelphia Flyers magic run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final had it all. We all know the story of how they made the playoffs on the last day of the regular season in a shootout victory over the New York Rangers. They went on to make the Stanley Cup Final by beating their rival, the New Jersey Devils, achieving a miracle series comeback against the Boston Bruins, and by disposing of a Jaroslav Halak-led Montreal Canadiens team. This historic Flyers team also has a lesson for this season’s class as they make their push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Flyers 2010 Stanley Cup Run Had Some Bumps
On Mar. 18, 2010, the Flyers defeated the Dallas Stars 3-2 on a Scott Hartnell goal to move the team into fifth place of the Eastern Conference with 79 points. This high was followed by back-to-back losses to the Atlanta Thrashers by a combined score of 8-3. To be fair, that year the Thrashers were not the bottom-dwellers they usually were, but, instead, were fighting for their own playoff spot. Nonetheless, it seemed that the Orange and Black had made one step forward and two steps back.
They followed those disappointing losses to Atlanta with a shutout loss to the Ottawa Senators and an overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild. The five-game losing streak was complete, with a 4-1 drumming by the Pittsburgh Penguins in what was to be the only game Flyers goalie, Johan Backlund, would play in the NHL. They got a small reprieve with a 5-1 victory over the Devils on Mar. 28, 2010, but the damage did not end there.
The 2009-10 Flyers would lose their next two games to the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens to continue their late-season swoon. The nine-point lead for a playoff spot achieved on Mar. 18 had disappeared by Apr. 3 after the Rangers tied them, and the Thrashers were now only one point behind with three games left to be played. This is eerily similar to the Flyers losing streak we watched at the beginning of this month.
Flyers March Struggles Continued This Season
March sure came in like a lion for the 2017-18 Flyers. They started with five-straight losses, including heartbreakers in Tampa and Boston. When they finally had a key victory against a good Winnipeg Jets team, they followed that up with losses in two of their next four games. We painfully watched what was once an 18-point cushion over the Florida Panthers (with three games in hand) at the beginning of the month, shrink all the way down to eight points (now with four games in hand).
Comparing the early March struggles of both the 2009-10 and 2017-18 Flyers might give us some much-needed perspective when considering their chances in this last push to the playoffs. The constant on both teams is Claude Giroux who, back in 2009-10, finished the season strong with two goals and a very important shootout goal. The Flyers captain is playing some of his best hockey right now, just finishing up an eight-game point streak and is only two goals away from tying his career-high (28).
In 2009, Giroux was a 22-year-old in his second full season with the team. Similarly, the Flyers have a forward in his second season, the 21-year-old Travis Konecny. He has the potential to be a force down the stretch and give his team the necessary, balanced scoring they desperately need. Konecky already has some success against his upcoming opponents, scoring nine goals and seven assists against the eight teams the Flyers have left to play.
The 2009-10 team’s net was occupied by a 33-year-old Brian Boucher. He finished the season stopping 99 out of the 107 shots he faced in his last four games, including a huge 23 save shutout vs the Canadiens. This season’s push to the playoffs could hinge on the health of a soon-to-be 33-year-old Brian Elliot. The veteran netminder is coming back from injury soon and Flyers GM, Ron Hextall, said he could return before the playoffs. His return could be crucial for the Flyers since the current tandem of Petr Mrazek and Alex Lyon have combined to give up 34 goals while having a 0.882 save percentage.
How did the 2009-10 Flyers team finish their terrible losing streak? They went on to beat the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs and, even though they lost to the Rangers on the road, they came back to beat them at home thanks to Brian Boucher’s stealth shootout save against Olli Jokinen’s backhand to go to the playoffs. The rest is history and all Flyers fans can hope for is some similar late-season magic for this year’s team.