For all their bitterness toward each other, for all the fanfare and hatred, and even in spite of the 2012 Winter Classic between the two rivals, the Flyers and Rangers have not met in a playoff series since 1997.
That’s right. It’s been 17 years since two of the most storied franchises on the East coast have tangoed in search a World Championship.
Not since the Flyers took four out of five, led by Eric Lindros in the 1997 Eastern Conference finals has a playoff bout been contended between the two clubs. For Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, it’s hard to believe it has been that long.
“Seventeen years, I couldn’t believe it when I heard that,” Holmgren told the Flyers’ website. “I had to think back.”
Dating back to 1987, the Flyers have won the last three playoff series, with the Rangers most recent victory coming in the 1986 semifinals.
The teams faced off six different times during the 1980s, with the Rangers winning four times.
The Rangers won 4-1 in the 1979 quarterfinals but the Flyers won the first series between the two, a 1974 best-of-seven that went the distance and saw Bernie Parent hang on to a 4-3 Flyers lead to send the team to a Stanley Cup title a week and a half later.
And don’t forget the 2010, winner-take-all regular season finale that was won by the Flyers in a dramatic shootout, setting up their run all the way to the Finals.
How will the first playoff battle between the Flyers and Rangers in this millennium go? We’ll know soon enough.