30 March 2011
The last time the Philadelphia Flyers won the Eastern Conference was in the spring of 2000. With 6 games left, one of which is at hand on the team closest behind them, the Flyers have a real shot at winning the Prince of Wales this too. The Flyers team that won the Conference with 105 points during the 1999-200 seasondidn't do it by mistake. They had a [sic] sick lineup:
(Lines by how I would have put them in NHL 99 because I have no chance in hell of remembering what they actually were):
Leclair - Lindros - Renberg
Recchi - Brind'Amour/Primeau - Gagne
Jones - Langkow - Zelepukin/Hull
Tocchet - Bureau/Manderville- Berube
(Trent Klatt on the Canucks, Flyer in spirit)
Desjardins - McGillis
Therien - Richardson
Delmore/Burt - Samuelsson/Eaton
Then of course you had Grand Wizard Cyclops Vanbiesbrouck and the young, oh so sexy, Brian Boucher between the pipes.
That was a good club. But how does it stack up against a club that's looking to do the same? Onto the impossible.
My very first thought on the subject was that our current Flyers are the better team just because it actually is 2011 and not 2000. Some people romanticize their memories while for other the glory fades as the years pass. But looking at the two lineups more closely…as far as offense goes…I think I have to give it to Team 2000.
Leclair, Lindros, Brind'Amour and Primeau are all almost Hall of Famers. Recchi certainly will be in the Hall whenever he wraps it up but was a little bit past his prime in 2000 (jokes). Tocchet was actually past his prime but serving his purpose and Gagne was up and coming. Bureau/Manderville were great checking centers and Berube did what he had to do.
Today we have Richards, Carter, Leino, Hartnell, Briere, JVR, Versteeg, and Giroux as skill guys. Richards won't ever make any lists or Halls of Fames based on stats alone, but a Cup or 6 to go with that Olympic Gold and possibly a Selke if he stops losing the puck at the offensive blue line will put him in a number of discussions. If Giroux continues to improve and puts up 100 points a couple years in a row he could be a regular old Sedin. But the rest of the guys, no matter how many All-Star Games the go to, will just be good to very good players.
And then we have our shut down guys in Betts and Powe, our Berube in Carcillo.
So yeah, I'm giving the nod to Team 2000. Even though Team 2011 has already put up 6 more goals than Team 2000 did in the entire regular season.
But on defense? There's no contest.
Pronger, Timonen, Carle, Coburn, O'Donnell, Meszaros.
I can't even compare them specifically except to say that if you put Team 2000 against Team 2011 it'd look like Butterbean going up against Muhammad Ali. They were slow and tough as hell with a quick right hand in Desjardins. We're fast, nimble, tough, powerful. We're the greatest.
As far as goaltending goes, that story is still to be written, but we do have Russian Charlie Kelley back there and an older, wiser, I wouldn’t even say slower, Brian Boucher. So who knows.
What we do all know is what happened to Team 2000 in the 1999-2000 playoffs. Up 3-1 to the Devils and then Cup dreams dashed. But we're getting close to finding out what the final 3 chapters of this new book will read like. The weather's about to start getting warmer and the Flyers will be playing on sunny Saturdays where the bars open all their windows and their doors because the weather is so beautiful even hockey deserves to be an outdoor event that day. And that should be excitement enough to make you go add a dash of liquid and hockey talk to your lunch today.
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