Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Around the Rink: Season Opener Edition

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

To celebrate the fact that the Penguins will open up the new CONSOL Energy Center on Thursday by welcoming the Flyers, I've decided to dip into the history machine again and pull out what I think are the five best and worst games the club has played in new arenas.

Flyers' Top Five in New Buildings

1) February 3, 1996 - Flyers 7, Blues 3 @ Kiel Center: The bad news was, feared sniper Brett Hull scored the first and last goals of the game. The good news was how Philly potted seven of the middle eight tallies to win in a rout.

Since the teams didn't play each other due to the lockout in 1995 and the inter-conference schedule thereafter, this was the Flyers' first chance to play in the Blues' new arena, opened in January of '95 after the Arena outlived its use.

Eric Lindros introduced himself to Missouri's newest venue with a hat trick and four points, John LeClair added two assists, and even Joel Otto hit the scoresheet with two goals and one successful fight. Ron Hextall stopped 31-of-34 shots, while Pat Falloon and Craig MacTavish also had scores.

2) February 10, 1996 - Flyers 6, Bruins 2 @ Fleet Center: The Garden, a regular house of horrors for any Philly hockey club since 1967, was gone in favor of its next-door neighbor and the orange and black took advantage.

Falloon lit the lamp twice, Lindros contributed a goal and three assists, Dan Quinn and LeClair posted two helpers each with Garth Snow making 27 saves. Former Flyer Rick Tocchet, recently aquired from LA, scored for Boston.

3) November 7, 1996 - Flyers 5, Sabres 2 @ Marine Midland Arena: The Flyers departed the venerable Aud the previous year with an interesting overtime win, and came into Buffalo's new digs without Lindros.

No matter, as four third-period goals (two from LeClair, one each from Mikael Renberg and Daniel Lacroix) sealed the victory. Philadelphia outshot the Sabres 38-15 but Dominik Hasek was hot for the first 40 minutes before wilting late.

4) November 6, 1999 - Flyers 5, Kings 3 @ Staples Center: Los Angeles won the previous year's game with the Flyers at the old Forum in Inglewood with a three-goal rally in the final three minutes, punctuated when Jozef Stumpel beat Hextall from the blue line with one second to go.

The first game in the new downtown arena went better for the Orange and Black as Eric Desjardins broke a 2-2 tie early in the second and LeClair tallied early in the third to back 15 saves by John Vanbiesbrouck.

5) November 29, 1983 - Flyers 8, Flames 5 @ Saddledome: The Flames played their first three seasons at the tiny Corral before opening the massive Saddledome in 1983. It was a scorching goalfest which saw Brian Propp and Tim Kerr score twice, Rich and Ron Sutter score once each and Pelle Lindbergh
withstand a 36-shot barrage. After this, the Flyers would only win once there until 1990.

Flyers' Bottom Five in new buildings

1) December 6, 1992 - Senators 3, Flyers 2 @ Ottawa Civic Center: Pelle Eklund
and Claude Boivin scored for the Flyers but the story was that a club in the middle of their five-year playoff drought brought down more scorn on itself by dropping another in a series of first games on the road to an expansion franchise.

Stocked with a roster of nobodies, Ottawa won only 10 games in its first modern NHL season, and this was one (its third of the year actually), thanks to a pair of third-period goals by Laurie Boschman and Jamie Baker on Stephane Beauregard. The Flyers coughed up a third-period lead by yielding the deciding scores in a span of less than two minutes.

Peter Sidorkiewicz -- a castoff from mediocre to terrible Whalers teams -- got credit for the win by stopping 24 shots.

2) January 6, 1994 - Stars 8, Flyers 0 @ Reunion Arena: The Minnesota North Stars became the Dallas Stars prior to the season, and they rudely welcomed the Flyers to Big D with this painful rout.

To this day, it's uncertain who decided to show up, and in the offseason, this was one of the games that unknown players identified as one that strained their relationship with then-head coach Terry Simpson.

Dominic Roussel and Tommy Soderstrom combined to stop just 15 shots as the team continued to slide without an injured Lindros. They were torched by Neal Broten's goal and three assists, Ulf Dahlen's two scores as well as tallies from Grant Ledyard, Dave Gagner, Mike McPhee, Paul Cavallini and Paul Broten.

3) January 14, 2000 - Atlanta 1, Flyers 0 @ Philips Arena: Yet another in a series of inexplicable road losses to expansion clubs, a team ticketed for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals failed to score against a first-year franchise.

Dean Sylvester registered the game's lone score in the third period and Norm Maracle posted 26 saves for the club's first-ever shutout. Brian Boucher turned back 17 shots but not the deciding one. It was one of only 14 wins that year for Atlanta.

4) January 3, 1992 - San Jose 3, Flyers 1 @ Cow Palace: Unlike losing to Ottawa, at least the Flyers went down to a 17-win expansion Sharks club that featured a third of the Cup finalist North Stars and Norris Trophy winner Doug Wilson.

Dale Craigwell -- one of the few players of African descent active at the time -- notched the winning goal on the power play early in the third and Kelly Kisio tallied an insurance marker into an empty net as Jeff Hackett
won with 27 saves. Kevin Dineen scored the only Flyers goal.

5) October 11, 1967 - Oakland 5, Flyers 1 @ Oakland Coliseum: The inaugural contest, played on the road, in Flyers history was a certified stinker. Bernie Parent let up all five goals on 33 shots against a franchise that never posted a winning record, finished last in their division almost every season, then would leave California in 1976 and vacate the NHL landscape by 1978.

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