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Flyers Heritage: Playoff Heroes

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

In 50 years of existence, the Flyers have been fortunate to be a successful franchise that has often seen the season continue well after the calendar flips to April. In their 50-year history, the Flyers have only missed the playoffs 11 times, including the season lost to the lockout in 2004-05. 

With so many playoff appearances, memories that are born in pursuit of the Stanley Cup often become the most memorable. And over the years, the Flyers had many players deliver standout moments from the earliest days of franchise history to the modern day team.

Here's a list of the some of the Flyers playoff heroes and their defining moments.

Gary Dornhoefer - The Flyers made the playoffs in three of their first five seasons in the NHL, but could not get past the first round. Gary Dornhoefer helped change that with some playoff overtime heroics. In Game 5 of the first round against the Minnesota North Stars, Dornhoefer got the puck and went charging up the wing, beating Cesare Maniago to give the Flyers the 3-2 win. The Flyers won the series in Game 6 two nights later and Dornhoefer got a statue, immortalizing his overtime heroics.

Bobby Clarke - Not only was Bobby Clarke the captain of the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions in 1974 and 1975, he was also an overtime hero during the Stanley Cup Final in '74. With the Flyers facing a potential 2-0 deficit to the Big Bad Boston Bruins, Clarke's rebound goal at 12:01 of overtime evened the series going back to Philadelphia. Clarke also is the Flyers all-time leader in playoff points with 119.

Rick MacLeish - Clarke's heroics became even more important just a few days later when the Flyers were on home ice with a 3-2 series lead needing one win to claim the Stanley Cup. Rick MacLeish provided arguably the biggest goal in Flyers history. His deflection of an Andre Dupont shot proved to be the difference in the Flyers first Stanley Cup clincher.

Bob Kelly - The next year, the Flyers were on the road this time with a 3-2 series lead on the Buffalo Sabres. After playing scoreless hockey for two periods, Bob "The Hound" Kelly scored 11 seconds into the third with what proved to be the game-winning goal in the Flyers second Stanley Cup clincher.

Bernie Parent - Those two goals were the difference because Bernie Parent was a brick wall for both clinching games. The Hall-of-Fame netminder stood tall for shutouts in both games, etching his place in Flyers playoff lore.

Dave Poulin - As the captain of two conference championship teams in the 1980s, Dave Poulin is a central figure to two successful playoff runs in 1985 and 1987. But Poulin's individual achievement came in the clinching Game 5 of the 1985 Conference Final. The Flyers had a 1-0 lead on the Quebec Nordiques after one period, but took two early penalties in the second to face a 5-on-3 disadvantage. No problem for Poulin, who stole the puck, cruised up the ice on a breakaway and scored, sending the Spectrum into bedlam. The Flyers won the game, 3-0, and claimed the series.

Brian Propp - Brian Propp is second in Flyers history with 112 playoff points -- 15 of them coming in 1979-80, 18 coming in 1984-85 and 28 coming in 1986-87 -- and was mainly known for just being a clutch player throughout the 80s. Propp scored the equalizer in Game 6 of the 1987 Stanley Cup Final. And that brings us to...

J.J. Daigneault - It's known as the night the Spectrum shook. Propp's game-tying goal with 6:56 to play had the Spectrum buzzing. Just 1:24 later, Propp was on the ice again and the Flyers were trying to get him the puck. A centering pass failed and Edmonton's Jari Kurri tried to clear the puck blindly. The puck went to Daigneault at the point and his long-range shot went in. The Flyers held on for the 3-2 win and forced a Game 7. 

Ron Hextall - Ron Hextall started his playoff success by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in a losing effort in 1987. Two seasons later, he made history becoming the first goaltender to score a goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And along the way, Hextall was around for some of the success and some of the lunacy -- Chris Chelios, anyone?

Eric Lindros - The Flyers experienced a playoff drought from 1990 to 1994. Enter Eric Lindros. The Flyers forward made his mark on the playoffs in 1995 with an overtime goal against Martin Brodeur and the Devils to take a 2-1 series lead. That lead eventually reached 3-1 after Game 4, but the Flyers went on to lose the series in seven games. Lindros was at it again in 1997, when in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, he scored with seconds remaining on Mike Richter to put the Rangers down 3-1 in the series. The Flyers won Game 5 and went on to the Stanley Cup Final.

Keith Primeau - Primeau's first playoff hero moment came in Game 4 of the 2000 Eastern Conference semi-final. In a marathon game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Primeau finally became the hero with the game-winning goal in the fifth overtime to even the series. The Flyers won the next two games to advance to the Eastern Conference Final. In 2004, Primeau had one of the most impressive playoff runs, posting 16 points in 18 games. In Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final, with one goal in the game already, Primeau scored with under two minutes to play to tie the game and help keep the Flyers season alive.

Jeremy Roenick - Earlier in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Roenick helped the Flyers advance to the Eastern Conference Final with a goal that will live forever in Flyers history. After Sami Kapanen got rocked against the boards and gallantly found a way to get to the bench, the Flyers got control of the puck on a two-on-one and Roenick fired it past Ed Belfour for the game-winner in overtime.

Danny Briere - He was called Mr. Playoffs and for good reason. Briere had 116 career playoff points, 63 of them coming for the Flyers. In the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Briere led the league and set a new Flyers record with 30 points in the playoffs. Among them was the game-tying goal in Game 7 against Boston, completing the comeback from down 3-0 in the game.

Simon Gagne - Gagne can claim to three specific memorable playoff moments. In the overtime that followed Primeau's game-tying goal in Game 6 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Final, it was Gagne that scored the game-winner with assists to Primeau and Roenick, to force Game 7. In 2010, Gagne was at it again in overtime of Game 4 against the Bruins, scoring the game-winner to force a Game 5. And then in Game 7, Gagne scored the power-play goal that put the Flyers ahead 4-3 and eventually capped the dramatic comeback from a 3-0 deficit in both the game and the series.

Mike Richards - His career in Philadelphia proved to be short, but Richards stamped himself as a leader and made his mark on the 2010 Stanley Cup run with the first Flyers goal in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. On a shift that started with a big hit along the blue line, Richards charged after a loose puck as Jaroslav Halak and Roman Hamerik collided. Richards managed to squeeze through the collision, get the loose puck and score. The Flyers won the game, 4-2, to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Claude Giroux - Giroux's playoff career has been pretty solid with 62 points, good enough for ninth all-time in Flyers history. Giroux made his mark in both 2010 and 2012 with key moments. With the Flyers trailing the Blackhawks 2-0 in the Final, Giroux scored the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 3 to get the Flyers back into the series. In 2012, with the Penguins starting to rally back from a 3-0 series deficit with back-to-back wins, Giroux started off Game 6 with a bang. He leveled Sidney Crosby with a hit in the opening seconds, then capped his opening shift with a goal that set the Flyers off on a 5-1 win to advance.


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