Another year is just about in the books and the Flyers certainly had a year of ups and downs and their share of exciting and memorable moments and sad moments as well.
We compiled 10 of those moments into a list of signature, standout moments from the year 2016, some of which will stand out in Flyers history for years to come.
10. Four-game winning streak in January
The Flyers opened the new year of 2016 with a 2-1 loss in Los Angeles, ending a three-game road trip winless. They won their next four games, one in overtime in Minnesota and another in comeback fashion against Boston to begin the new year strong with four wins in five games. This wasn’t quite the point where the Flyers turned the corner on the season, but it did start the new year off the right way.
9. The emergence of prospects Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny
(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)
For years, patience has been a virtue for Flyers fans, but their patience started to pay off in 2016. The Flyers had one Calder Trophy candidate — we’ll get to him later — and two more prospects make their way to the NHL for good. The emergence of the Flyers two first-round picks from 2015, Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny, has been a bright spot on 2016 and continues to be a hopeful thing for the Flyers as 2017 approaches.
8. Michael Neuvirth’s spectacular stick save
This was the save that may have saved the Flyers season. The Flyers were desperate for points in essentially every game once late February hit. On the night of Feb 25, clinging to a 3-2 lead against Minnesota, Charlie Coyle was staring at a wide open net in the closing seconds when Michal Neuvirth sprawled across the crease, knocked the puck out of midair with his stick and covered, miraculously preserving the win. The Flyers went 14-5-3 the rest of the way.
7. The hard-fought finish in playoff series loss to Washington
Monday night, April 18, marred the Flyers second-half run to the playoffs and playoff series with Washington. As if the 6-1 embarrassment on the ice wasn’t bad enough, a smattering of fans took it one step further by throwing plastic bracelets used for a pregame light show onto the ice and earning the Flyers a delay of game penalty. The Washington rout also made it a 3-0 series deficit for the Flyers. But the Flyers responded, winning Game 4, 2-1, and Game 5, 2-0, in two tough, hard-fought hockey games. Game 6 on April 24 proved to be the end of the series, but the 1-0 loss was certainly an admirable effort in a series against the President’s Trophy winners.
6. Back-to-back OT wins in March
If Michal Neuvirth’s miraculous save was the true start of a second-half run, then the back-to-back wins in overtime over the Winnipeg Jets and a shootout against the Washington Capitals to end March were the games that showed the Flyers were legitimately going to make a run and might just get into the playoffs.
First, there was the overtime heroics on March 28 against the Jets, when seconds from a shootout, Shayne Gostisbehere dove to poke the puck away from a Jets defender and passed to a wide open Claude Giroux in front of the net. He scored to send Wells Fargo Center into bedlam.
Two nights later, the Flyers trailed the Capitals with less than six minutes to play in the third. Brayden Schenn’s deflection goal even the score and forced overtime. After one of the more entertaining 3-on-3 overtimes of the season, the Flyers scored on both shootout attempts and Steve Mason stopped the Capitals two attempts to give the Flyers a huge win in what proved to be a playoff preview.
5. Opening the 50th season
The Flyers first game of the 2016-17 season couldn’t have gone any better. On the night they opened their 50th anniversary season, they came away with a 4-2 win in Los Angeles, their first season-opening win since 2011. Two goals by Sean Couturier and goals by Boyd Gordon and Mark Streit had the Flyers on the board with Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov each getting assists for their first NHL points.
4. The 10-game winning streak
(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)
The most recent memory, but quite possibly the most memorable. The Flyers went on a roll from Nov. 27 to Dec. 17, winning 10 straight games, their longest winning streak since 1985.
It’s not just the length of the streak but the way the Flyers were winning games. Six of the 10 wins were one-goal wins. The Flyers didn’t win a game by more than two goals during the streak. Two of the two-goal wins came with empty-net goals in the final moments that helped seal a win.
There were also different heroes along the way. Gostisbehere scored the deciding goal in a nine-round shootout win over Boston on Nov. 29. Giroux scored the overtime winner in Ottawa two nights later. Jake Voracek played hero in overtime on Dec. 6. Michael Raffl scored the game-winning goal against Edmonton with 1:29 to play two nights later. Brayden Schenn had a hat trick, with the final two goals coming in the final four minutes of the game, in a win over Dallas. Schenn also scored the overtime winner the next night to help the streak reach nine games.
No matter who was scoring goals or what the final score was, hockey was a lot of fun in Philadelphia for that three-week stretch.
3. Shayne Gostisbehere’s 15-game points streak
It started as just another amazing play by the rookie on Jan. 19, a self-led rush up the ice finished off with a goal to tie the game against Toronto. But it really started to become something when Shayne Gostisbehere was piling up points in consecutive games and finding a way to do it late in games at times.
The next five games, Gostisbehere had a point by the halfway point of the game. But in the seventh game of the streak, it took a Wayne Simmonds deflection goal off a Gostisbehere shot with 7:59 left in regulation to extend the streak.
It happened again three games later, when the Flyers only goal against Anaheim in a 4-1 loss was assisted by Gostisbehere with 6:05 to play.
Gostisbehere’s assist on another Simmonds goal in the second period against Buffalo two nights later was his 10th straight game with a point, tying an NHL record for a rookie defenseman.
Through the 10-game streak, Gostisbehere had scored just twice while putting up 11 assists during that time. He needed a point to set the record on Feb. 11 against the Devils. With the Flyers down 1-0 entering the third, an early power play gave them a chance to tie the game. Leave it to Gostisbehere to set the record in dramatic fashion. His point shot beat Cory Schneider for the record-setting goal.
The streak nearly ended the next night. With the Flyers down 3-0 to the Rangers in the closing seconds of the game, Brayden Schenn scored with 10 seconds left to break up the shutout. An assist went to Gostisbehere and the streak reached 11.
Gostisbehere got on the board early in New Jersey two nights later to reach 12 straight games and needed a third-period assist on Feb. 19 to bring it to 14 games. The final night of the streak was Feb. 20, and Gostisbehere again delivered in clutch fashion.
The Flyers defenseman was held without a point through regulation in a high-scoring 4-4 game. Just 29 seconds into overtime, Gostisbehere scored on a 2-on-1 to give the Flyers the win and bring the streak to 15 games.
While the streak finally met its end on Feb. 23 in Carolina, Gostisbehere had established himself as one of the greatest rookies the franchise has ever seen.
2. Clinching a playoff spot
The Flyers were on a roll as April started having won seven of their last 10 games after an April 2 win over Ottawa. But a 6-2 loss to Pittsburgh, 3-0 loss to Detroit and 4-3 overtime loss to Toronto put their playoff hopes in jeopardy until the rest of the stars aligned and set up a clinching scenario on April 9 against Pittsburgh.
With one victory separating them from a remarkable second-half run, the Flyers fell behind early but got a goal from Wayne Simmonds late in the first to tie the game. Simmonds scored on a deflection with 3:02 left in the second to give the Flyers the lead and set up a raucous third period.
The Flyers were essentially holding on for dear life as the third period started to wind down and with 58 seconds left, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare managed to strip the puck at the Flyers blue line and take it the length of the ice and firing into an empty net, sealing the Flyers win and playoff berth.
1. Ed Snider’s Passing
The clinching of a playoff spot on April 9 became more poignant two days later when the Flyers founder and chairman Ed Snider passed away at age 83. It was a moment that would define the rest of 2016.
The Flyers still display Mr. Snider’s signature on their uniforms. For the playoff series with Washington, Snider’s initials of EMS were painted onto the ice surface behind both nets. There were memorials and tributes, both private and public, held in the days that followed.
Mr. Snider was the Philadelphia Flyers, and still is. The man who brought hockey to Philadelphia lived to see 49 seasons of Flyers hockey. And perhaps that’s why the loss hurt more. The Flyers had spanned 50 years of existence, defied the odds to become a staple of Philadelphia sports, entertainment and culture. So much of that was Mr. Snider’s doing.
Even though the 2015-16 season came to an end with the Flyers loss in Game 6 to Washington, amid heavy hearts, the memory of Ed Snider has lived on. It lives on with a banner high atop Wells Fargo Center. It lives in each player who dons the logo and the Orange and Black. And it lives on in each Flyers fan, near and far, who bleeds the colors of Ed Snider’s team.