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ALL-DECADE: The Top 10 Moments

With the calendar about to flip, a look back at the moments that defined the Flyers decade

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer

The decade of the 2010s started on a high note for the Philadelphia Flyers, as the team made a magical run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. The decade has closed with a promising first half of the 2019-20 campaign, including a gaudy 13-2-4 record at home, with a 72-37 goal differential in the team's favor (3.79 GPG vs. 1.95 GAA).

In between, there was a memorable playoff upset win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2011-12, a single-season franchise record in 2013-14 for comeback victories, two outdoor games held in Philadelphia, several new inductions into the Flyers Hall of Fame and many other highlights. Most of middle-to-late portion of the 2010s was spent stockpiling draft pick assets and gradually replenishing the farm system. 

Here are the top 10 moments of the last decade: (listed chronologically)

1) April 11, 2010: Shootout for the Season vs. NYR

Entering the 2009-10 season, the Flyers were The Hockey News' favorite to win the Stanley Cup. A tumultuous campaign followed, which included a change behind the bench from John Stevens to Peter Laviolette and a career-threatening hip injury diagnosis for starting goalie Ray Emery. As it turned out, the Flyers needed a win on home ice against the New York Rangers on the final afternoon of the regular season. The winner would advance to the playoffs. The loser would get an unwanted early summer vacation.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist nearly stole the game. Bombarded with 45 shots in regulation, compared to 23 faced by Flyers starter Brian Boucher.

After a scoreless overtime, in which the Rangers deliberately ragged as much time as possible off the clock, the game moved to a shootout. Both teams had gone 3-3 in the skills competition that season up to that point but the on-paper advantage significantly favored the Rangers. 

Boucher, who had won only 2 of 7 career shootouts to that point, had stopped only 8 of 17 attempts (47%). Perennial Vezina Trophy candidate Lundqvist, 20-10 in shootouts, had stopped 75.5 percent (142 of 188) in his career.

Fortunately for the Flyers, the game is played on ice, not on paper.

Danny Briere led off in the top of the first round and got Lundqvist to bite ever so slightly on a forehand-to-backhand-to-forehand move in close to the net and then beat Lundqvist over his outstretched left pad. 

Rangers' Erik Christensen attempted wrister found no room and was knocked harmlessly away by Boucher's blocker.

Mike Richards moved in straight and tried to fool Lundqvist with a quick wrist shot to the blocker side from the slot. The goalie was prepared and knocked the puck into the corner with his stick. P.A. Parenteau cut to his right and flipped a forehand shot over Boucher as the goaltender moved across.

Tied at 1-1, the Flyers turned to second-year NHLer Claude Giroux. The young forward moved in with speed, slowed down just inside the blueline and then stutter-stepped as if to accelerate again and then unleashed a quick wrist shot. Lundqvist, completely fooled in this one, was opened up as he had started to cheat laterally and the Giroux shot beat him through the five-hole.

The Rangers' season came down to Olli Jokinen (14-for-35 in his career, 40 percent). Rangers head coach John Tortorella was playing the odds, opting for Jokinen's far superior career shootout stats while leaving 42-goal scorer Marian Gaborik on the bench in rounds 1-3. The Finn started from his own goal line, picking up the puck at center ice and attacking at top speed. He tried to open up Boucher's pads and tuck through a backhander but was stoned by the Flyers' netminder.

The Flyers were in the playoffs, and the Rangers were done. For Philly, a wild two-month ride was just beginning. 

2) May 14, 2010 at Boston: Gagne Caps Comeback 

After the Flyers dismantled the New Jersey Devils in five games in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, they lost three in a row against the Boston Bruins (5-4 in overtime, 3-2, and 4-1) to fall into dire straights in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Simon Gagne, who had missed 22 games that season with a groin injury and then missed the clincher of the Devils series and the first three games of the Bruins series with a foot injury, returned to the lineup at far less than 100 percent health. 

He delivered an overtime goal in Game 4 to prolong the series, a pair of goals in Game 5 and a crucial assist in Game 6. Now the series went back to Boston for a deciding 7th game. 

The Bruins roared out a quick 3-0 lead in the first period. Rookie left winger James van Riemsdyk got Philly on the board late in the period. In the middle frame, goals by linemates Scott Hartnell and Briere knotted the score at 3-3 before the midpoint of regulation. 

The score stayed that way until the latter half of the third period. At 11:10, the Bruins were whistled for too many men on the ice. A shot attempt from Richards in the right circle was blocked down but the puck went directly to the nearby Gagne in the slot, and he snapped home what proved to be the biggest goal of his career. The Flyers killed off the remaining 7:08 to complete the most extraordinary comeback in franchise history: recoveries from a 3-0 deficit in games and a 3-0 scoreboard deficit in the clinching win.

3) May 24, 2010: The Shift, Part 1 (Mike Richards)

With the Flyers trailing Montreal, 1-0, in the first period of Game 5 in their Eastern Conference Final series, Philadelphia found itself on a penalty kill. Team captain Mike Richards was not about to fall into a defensive shell. First, he delivered a steamroller of a check at the defensive blueline to start a 3-on-2 counterattack. Receiving the puck from Claude Giroux, Richards then found trailer Braydon Coburn for a prime shorthanded scoring chance. Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak made the save.

Richards wasn't done, however. On a Flyers clear down the ice, Halak gambled by sliding way out of the net as Richards barreled toward him. They had a glancing collision, but Montreal's Roman Hamrik crashed heavily into Halak, who lost his stick as the puck slid toward the net. Richards scrambled to his feet and deposited a backhander into the empty net to tie the game at 1-1.

A trip to the Stanley Cup Final felt inevitable. It was. The Flyers went on to win the game, 4-2, and the series, four games to one.

4) June 4, 2010: Flyers Knot Cup Finals

Dating back to the 1987 Stanley Cup Final, which went seven games and saw the Flyers hold a brief 1-0 lead in the deciding game, Philly has never been closer to the Cup in the last 32 years than they were when they tied the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals at two games apiece.

The Chicago Blackhawks won the first two games on home ice, 6-5 and 2-1. Now the Flyers were in a desperate, but familiar situation. In Game 3, Briere's 11th goal of the playoffs got the crowd rocking early, and linemates Hartnell and Ville Leino also scored as another seesaw game went to overtime, tied at 3-3. Capping his emergence as one of the NHL's fastest-rising young stars, Giroux potted an OT goal at 5:59 to narrow the series gap to two games to one. 

In Game 4, the host Flyers roared out to a 3-1 lead by the first intermission on goals by Richards, Matt Carle and Giroux. Philly went on to win, 5-3, with Jeff Carter sealing the game with a late empty netter. 

The Stanley Cup Finals were now tied at two games apiece and were very much up for grabs. 

5) April 26, 2011: Briere Buries Sabres

By now, Flyers fans had come to expect playoff scoring heroics from Danny Briere, and he rarely disappointed. In the 2011 playoffs, the Flyers pulled off a comeback from a three games to two deficit. First came an overtime win in Buffalo in Game 6 (Leino scored the game-winner in OT, after Briere scored twice in regulation). 

In Game 7, the ice was tilted in the Flyers favor but they managed only a skinny 1-0 lead through 24 plus minutes. Finally, Briere potted a power-play goal from close range to extend the lead to two goals. The Flyers went on to build a 4-0 lead through two-plus periods and won the clinching game, 5-2.

6) April 22, 2012: The Shift, Part 2 (Claude Giroux)

Entering the 2012 playoffs, the Pittsburgh Penguins were virtually a unanimous pick among hockey media pundits to win the Stanley Cup. They were a juggernaut during the regular season and now had a healthy Sidney Crosby (after battling concussion-related issues for a couple of years) back atop their stacked lineup.

The Flyers, who had a war of a regular season series with the Penguins, were not about go down meekly to what had become their No. 1 rival. Philly won each of the first three games of the series, which rapidly became one of the chippiest playoff rounds the NHL has seen in the last 25 years. The Penguins pushed back to win Games 4 and 5.

The series moved back to Philadelphia for Game 6. Not wanting to see the series shift to Pittsburgh for a Game 7, the Flyers players were challenged by head coach Peter Laviolette for each and every player to bring his A game for just that afternoon. 

No one was more fired up on the Flyers side than Giroux. Before the game's opening faceoff, he told Briere to watch his first shift of the game. Briere told him," Just don't take a bad penalty."

Giroux didn't. Instead, he flattened Crosby with a big hit and capped off the opening shift by scoring the game's first goal. The Wells Fargo Center crowd, already in a frenzy, went bonkers. 

The Flyers went on to win, 5-1, completing the series upset.

7) April 9, 2016: Simmonds Scores for Mr. Snider

Entering the final home game of the 2015-16 regular season, the Flyers needed a win over the Pittsburgh Penguins to earn a playoff spot. Meanwhile, in California, the health of beloved 83-year-old Flyers co-founder, longtime majority owner and chairman Ed Snider had taken a turn for the worse.

To a man, the Flyers wanted to win the game in honor of Mr. Snider. None was more emotional than power forward Wayne Simmonds; one of the primary leaders in the locker room and someone who unabashedly wore his heart on his sleeve. On national TV, Simmonds dedicated the game to Mr. Snider.

Before the opening faceoff, Lauren Hart performed "God Bless America" singing directly to Mr. Snider via Face Time. After trailing early in the game, the Flyers went on to win, 3-1. Unsurprisingly, it was none other than Wayne Simmonds who scored the tying and winning goals.

"I said it earlier, and especially when we took that picture and Mr. Snider wasn't in it," Simmonds said. "When you look in the hallway and it's the first time he's not in a picture. It sucks to see it happen. We were playing to make the playoffs for him."

8) January 14, 2017: 50th Anniversary Game

Held on Dec. 31, 2011, the Winter Classic Alumni Game at Citizens Bank Park between the Flyers Alumni and New York Rangers Alumni was a spectacular event perhaps remembered best for Bernie Parent starting in goal for the Flyers Alumni and for the reconciliation between Eric Lindros and the Flyers taking the next step as No. 88 donned a Flyers uniform for the first time since Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals.

However, for sheer emotion and generational importance, nothing could top the 50th Anniversary game between the Flyers Alumni and Pittsburgh Penguins Alumni at the Wells Fargo Center five-plus years later.

 For one thing, the game was dedicated to the memory of Ed Snider. For another, there were 55 Flyers Alumni on hand for the game, either in playing or ceremonial capacities and spanning every generation in team history (including most of the surviving members of the inaugural 1967-68 team).

 Additionally, what were arguably the three top lines in Flyers franchise history -- the LCB line of Reggie Leach, Bob Clarke and Bill Barber, the trio of Brian Propp, Dave Poulin and Tim Kerr, and the Legion of Doom line of John LeClair, Lindros and Mikael Renberg -- were all part of the Flyers lineup for this game. Other Flyers notables to play included Mark Howe, Eric Desjardins, Danny Briere, Kimmo Timonen, Bob "the Hound" Kelly, Brad Marsh, Jimmy and Joe Watson, Dave Brown and more.

Last but not least, the 50th Anniversary Game marked the last time that Clarke and Barber would step onto the ice after donning the only uniform crest that either Hockey Hall of Famer wore during their playing days. The 50th Anniversary Game was the final Alumni game for both legends, at least in a playing capacity. 

9) April 7, 2018: Giroux Hat Trick Clinches Playoff Spot

For the third time in a decade, the Flyers entered the final home game of a regular season needing a win to get in the playoffs. Capping off a career-best 34-goal, 102-point season that deserved much more serious Hart Trophy consideration than it received on the national level, Claude Giroux was a one-man wrecking crew in the finale against the New York Rangers.

Henrik Lundqvist almost single-handedly kept the Rangers in the game for one-plus period but Giroux was relentless. He scored three times to render the latter part of the game academic, and was serenaded by chants of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" from the Wells Fargo Center crowd.

10) Feb. 23, 2019: Stadium Series comeback win in the rain

Entering the 2019 Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field, the Flyers had gone 0-2-1 in outdoor games: losing the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park in overtime to the Boston Bruins, the 2012 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Part to the Rangers in regulation and the 2017 Stadium Series at Heinz Field to the Penguins in regulation. 

Playing in a steady rain -- at some points, especially by the third period, a driving rain -- the Flyers were in severe jeopardy of remaining winless in outdoor games. Trailing Pittsburgh 3-1 with time ticking down near the final five minutes, Robert Hägg goaded Evgeni Malkin into a retaliatory cross-checking penalty that took both players off the ice for two minutes. 

The Malkin penalty opened the door for a late push by the Flyers. James van Riemsdyk cut the gap to 3-2 with 3:04 left on the clock. In the final 20 seconds, Jakub Voracek scored an improbable goal from near the left corner to force OT. At 1:59 of overtime, Giroux won the game with a wrist shot that beat Matt Murray and touched off a jubilant celebration from the water-logged but happy Flyers partisans. 

There was an emotional scene in the victorious locker room after the game. With the NHL trade deadline looming the following day and with Simmonds all but certain to be dealt (the impending unrestricted free agent was ultimately traded to Nashville), Simmonds was awarded the Player of the Game helmet and then embraced by longtime teammate Voracek.Video: PIT@PHI: Flyers rally late to top Penguins in OT

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