Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Crazy Eights have Flyers on cusp of history

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Back in the days when things weren't so bright for the Philadelphia Flyers, they at least had an attraction to cling to, in their offense-heavy top line of Mark Recchi, Eric Lindros and Brent Fedyk.

The trio were together for just two seasons, 1992 to 1994, providing the only consistent punch those playoff averse teams under Bill Dineen and Terry Simpson had, boasting a T-shirt worthy nickname: Crazy Eights.

That's because Recchi wore No. 8, Fedyk was No. 18, and Lindros was No. 88, of course. They combined for 499 points, but no postseason, no publicity.

It's a reference so obscure, in a down era for the franchise, that you'd be hard pressed to find pictures on the internet featuring all three together -- unlike that of the Legion of Doom which popped up a year later.

Flash forward to 2012, where an obscure statistic is about to give the Orange and Black a share of history.

Only three times previously has the franchise recorded a four-game sweep: the 1974 and 1975 quarterfinals (Atlanta and Toronto) and the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals over the defending-champion New York Rangers.

But the Flyers have never been this close to shutting the door on a playoff opponent with such an intense burst of offense.

There have been only seven occasions where Philadelphia has scored at least eight goals in one playoff game, and the first five all took place between 1981 and 1989 -- the victims were, in order: Islanders (1980 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 2), Nordiques (1981 Preliminary Game 2), Flames (1981 Quarterfinal Game 5), Rangers (1987 Patrick Semifinal Game 2) and Capitals (1989 Patrick Semifinal Game 5).

The other two were Friday and Sunday, respectively.

In the contest following those outbursts, the Flyers have gone 4-2 -- counting the current series -- winning the last four times.

Additionally, Peter Laviolette's high-octane charges have not only set a club record for goals through the first three games of any series, but also through four games, and the fourth hasn't even happened yet.

At the current pace of 6.66 goals-per-game, that would also shatter the previous record for most average tallies through one best-of-seven playoff set while also smashing the mark for most total scores (theoretically 46.66).

The only series which comes close was the 1980 Semifinal against the Minnesota North Stars, where the team that put together "The Streak" hammered out 27 goals in a five-game decision for a robust 5.4 GFA. Included in that set were two wins where the scoring topped out at seven (7-0 in Game 2 and 7-3 in Game 5) plus a 6-5 defeat.

The 1976 quarterfinal round mash-up between the Flyers and Maple Leafs saw Fred Shero's Bullies put their fists down long enough to light the lamp a team-record 33 times in a 7-game series triumph. In 1989, Philly scored 31 times while also taking a 7-gamer from the Mario Lemieux/Paul Coffey-fueled Penguins.

So this triple threat ain't bad for a ragtag bunch of veterans and kids, backed by a goaltender with an apparent husky fetish and his head permanently in the cosmos.
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