Flyers-Rangers: Lotsa Tradition, Light on Cups
The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers will meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs starting tonight in what many think could be a very long and physical series.
These two rivals, who haven't met in the playoffs since 1997, have storied traditions, but when it comes to winning the Cup, they haven't won many at all.
If the Rangers pull a few upsets and win the championship this year, it will be their first title in 20 years and their second in 74 years; they've only claimed four in all. The Flyers, who entered the league in 1967, have won only two championships since then way back in the Broad Street Bullies days of 1974 and 1975.
In 1994, the names were Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Mike RIchter, and Adam Graves for he Rangers, who stopped a 54-year drought when they finally won the Cup on that special June evening at Madison Square Garden.
So many players before them -- such as Andy Bathgate, Rod Gilbert , Jean Ratelle, Brad Park, and Ed Giacomin -- had the talent but could't win the coveted Cup. Then, after the 1994 triumph, Rangers fans thought there would be more to come. That hasn't happened; the Blueshirts haven't even made the finals since then. They've reached the conference finals only twice, losing to the Flyers in 1997 and the Devils two years ago as the No 1 seed.
Philadelphia's first of their two consecutive Cups featured a huge upset over the powerful Boston Bruins, which was the first Cup ever won by an expansion team.
But since those days of Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent, Paul Holmgren, Dave Schultz, Rick MacLeish, and the rest of the Broad Street Bullies, the Flyers have appeared in the finals six times, but have yet to raise the Cup.
So tonight, the names will be different, as the stars for the Rangers are now Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash, Martin St Louis, and Ryan McDonagh. The Flyers are led by Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen, and Steve Mason. The past isn't their burden to bear; the present is their shot.
Still, everywhere they turn, they'll see the reminders. It would be along time coming for both.