Flyers Five: Comparing 1997’s Rangers series with this year’s

 


(left to right) Paul Coffey, Mark Messier, Eric Lindros and Dainius Zubrus shake hands after the Flyers' Game 5 victory in the 1997 Eastern Conference final.

The last time the Flyers and Rangers met in the playoffs was 1997 — a well-documented tidbit during this series. It's tacit that the NHL is an entirely different game between now and then — 17 years is a LONG time in the hockey realm — but just for fun, this week's Flyers Five looks at similarities and differences within the team then and now.

5. Captain: The 1997 Eastern Conference champion Flyers were led by Eric Lindros, in his third year of captaincy. 'Captain Claude' Giroux leads the Flyers of today as the franchise's 19th captain.

4. Coach: Terry Murray coached his third season with the team, but was fired at season's end in the wake of a Stanley Cup sweep and controversial "choking situation" comments, but now just completed his second season as coach of the American League's Adirondack Phantoms. Craig Berube coached 79 games this season after taking the reigns in October. Interestingly enough, Berube replaced Murray in 2008 when the latter pursued a head-coaching job with Los Angeles.

3. Leading Scorer: Giroux led the team with 86 points, and finished third in the NHL. John LeClair led the 1996-97 team with 97 points and finished tied with Wayne Gretzky for fourth in the league.

2. Roster Then and Now: Ron Hextall was the starting goalie, recording a 2.56 GAA and .897 SP in 55 games, and now serves as assistant GM. Chris Therien played 71 games and all 19 playoff games, and now serves as color commentator for Flyers Radio Network broadcasts. Kjell Samuelsson also played 34 games and five playoff games on the Flyers' blueline, and now works within player development. Vinny Prospal was just a rookie in 1996-97, and retired this past January after a 16-season career.

1. Series-Defining Win: Assuming anything changes over the next two days, the win that defined this series for the Flyers this year was their Game 2 win at Madison Square Garden. It snapped a nine-game losing streak at the 'World's Most Famous Arena,' and affirmed the series was going to be a close one. The win that defined the 1997 Eastern Conference final was in Game 3, when the Flyers roared out to a 6-3 win and never looked back en route to the Stanley Cup final.

Rob Riches is a writer for Flyerdelphia, and his Flyers Five appears here as well as Wednesday evenings on Sports Source on Cavalier Radio. You can follow Rob on Twitter @Riches61.