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Flyers–Penguins rivalry


Flyers–Penguins rivalry

The Flyers–Penguins rivalry is a rivalry between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division of the National Hockey League. It began in 1967 when the teams were introduced into the NHL's "Next Six" expansion wave. The rivalry exists due to divisional alignment and geographic location, as both teams play in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Flyers lead the series 146–93–30.[2] The Flyers and Penguins have met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 3 of the last 6 seasons, strengthening the rivalry.[9]


  • Early days 1
  • Arrival of Mario Lemieux 2
  • Eric Lindros and the 1990s 3
  • Rivalry in the 21st century 4
  • Cultural Impact 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7

Early days

The first meeting between the Flyers and Penguins occurred on October 19, 1967 in the first ever game at the Philadelphia Spectrum.[10] Flyers goaltender Doug Favell stopped all 17 Pittsburgh shots and Bill Sutherland scored the lone goal 2:59 into the 3rd period for a 1–0 Flyers win.[10]

The rivalry was not as strong in earlier years, as the Penguins struggled in the NHL until the arrival of Mario Lemieux in 1984–85. The Flyers achieved just the opposite, winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975. When the NHL realigned divisions prior to the 1974–75 season, the two Pennsylvania teams were moved to separate divisions. The Penguins spent the next seven seasons in the Norris Division and became the Flyers division rivals once again upon joining the Patrick Division in 1981–82.

Most notably during this era was the Penguins' 42 game winless streak at the Spectrum. From February 7, 1974 through February 2, 1989 the Penguins were 0–39–3 at the Spectrum.

Arrival of Mario Lemieux

After years of under performance, the arrival of Lemieux in Pittsburgh gave the Penguins respectability in the league. In 1988–89, the Flyers and the Penguins met for the first time in the playoffs in the Patrick Division Finals. The Penguin's upstart talent pushed the Flyers to the brink of elimination, but lost to the Flyers in seven games.

The series proved to be a turning point for both franchises. The Flyers missed the playoffs for the next 5 seasons, while the Penguins became an annual contender with such stars as Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis and Larry Murphy. The Penguins peaked with two Stanley Cup Championships in 1991 and 1992.

Eric Lindros and the 1990s

The rivalry continued during the 1990s with the arrival of Eric Lindros in Philadelphia, which gave the Flyers a counterbalance against Lemieux. But further divisional realignment split the teams up again in 1993–94 and the Penguins spent the next five seasons in the Northeast Division. Lindros and Jagr were tied for the scoring lead in 1994–95, but the Art Ross Trophy was given to Jagr for scoring more goals than Lindros. Lindros won the Hart Memorial Trophy that season as MVP, with Lemieux winning it the following season in 1995–96, with Lindros as first runner-up. During that same season, the Flyers won the Eastern Conference's crown by 1 point in the standings, despite Pittsburgh having 49 wins while Philadelphia having 45 wins. The two teams met again in the playoffs, in the 1997 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Flyers won in five games and Lemieux retired for the first time at the end of the series. After Game 5, Lemieux skated around the ice and received a standing ovation from the Philadelphia crowd. He had previously received a standing ovation from the Philadelphia crowd in March 1993 after returning from radiation treatments.

One of the most memorable moments of the rivalry occurred during the 1999–2000 season, when the two teams met in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. A season after the Penguins joined the Atlantic Division, the Flyers had won the division and the 1st seed in the East, while the Penguins snuck into the playoffs as the 7th seed. Despite this, the Penguins jumped out to a 2 games to none lead in the series, winning both games in Philadelphia. The Flyers won Game 3 in overtime, but NHL history was made in Game 4. Tied at 1, the game stretched to five overtime periods and set the record for the longest game played in the modern era of the NHL. Keith Primeau's goal at the 92:01 mark of overtime (152:01 overall) gave the Flyers a 2–1 win and a 2–2 split in the series.[11] The outcome energized the Flyers and demoralized the Penguins, as the Flyers went on to win the next two games and the series.

Rivalry in the 21st century

The rivalry between the two teams lost its luster in the years leading up to the 2004–05 NHL lockout as the Penguins struggled on and off the ice, dropping to the bottom of not only the league standings but the attendance rankings as well.[12]

In 2006–07, the Penguins defeated the Flyers in all eight matchups between the two teams, and Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury became the first goalie to defeat a team eight times in a season since 1967–68. The Flyers have swept the season series twice, winning all four games during the 1980–81 season and winning all seven games during the 1983–84 season. During the 2007–08 season the Flyers won five games and the Penguins won three of the games in the season series. The series was highlighted by an 8–2 win by the Flyers and a 7–1 win by the Penguins. The Penguins and the Flyers faced off in the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals, won by the Penguins in 5 games for the Penguins' first-ever playoff series win against the Flyers. A year later in the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals the Penguins beat the Flyers again, winning the series 4–2 on their way to winning the Stanley Cup.

In the 2010–11 season opener, Philadelphia traveled to Pittsburgh to open the Penguins new arena, the Consol Energy Center, on October 7. Rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made his NHL debut, leading the Flyers to a 3–2 victory.[13] Flyers forward Daniel Briere scored the first NHL goal in the new building, and Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy scored the first Penguins goal.

On July 1, 2011, the Flyers signed Jaromir Jagr to a 1-year, $3.3 million deal and Maxime Talbot to a 5-year, $9 million deal.[14][15] Talbot scored both goals in the Penguins' Cup-clinching Game 7 win against Detroit in 2009.[14]

On April 1, 2012, the Flyers and Penguins were involved in a late-game skirmish at Consol Energy Center. The game, which the Flyers won 6-4, was highlighted by Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato standing atop the boards and engaged in a verbal altercation.[16] Both were eventually fined by the NHL.[17] On April 7, the Penguins defeated the Flyers for the first time in six tries at Consol Energy Center, winning 4-2.

The teams met again in the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, their 3rd meeting in 5 seasons. The Flyers won the series in six games, surprising the hockey world, as the Penguins were heavily favored to win the Stanley Cup.[18] The teams combined for an NHL-record 45 goals in the first four games as well as combining for 309 penalty minutes throughout the fight-filled six-game series. Many NHL players and media personalities commented that it was the most engaging series they had seen in a long time.

Cultural Impact

The Penguins-Flyers rivalry is often regarded as the most intense in the league. The rivalry has been named "The Battle of Pennsylvania". Both teams have very loyal fan bases that practically cut the state in half. The eastern half of the state consists of mostly Flyer fans, while the western half consists of mostly Penguin fans. Both teams regularly sellout their arenas, Consol Energy Center and Wells Fargo Center respectively. At most games, derogatory chants will sound towards the opposition. Several fights have broken out between fans, the most recent coming after the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The rivalry is hot ticket in both cities; most of the time it's the most anticipated matchup of the season.

See also


  1. ^ "All-Time Game Scores and Results". P. Anson. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "Philadelphia Flyers Head-to-Head Results". Hockey-Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved May 6, 2014. 
  3. ^ "1989 NHL Playoff Summary". Hockey-Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  4. ^ "1997 NHL Playoff Summary". Hockey-Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  5. ^ "2000 NHL Playoff Summary". Hockey-Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  6. ^ "2008 NHL Playoff Summary". Hockey-Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  7. ^ "2009 NHL Playoff Summary". Hockey-Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  8. ^ "2012 NHL Playoff Summary". Hockey-Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved April 20, 2012. 
  9. ^ "It's Philly vs. the Burgh". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 11, 2008. p. B1. 
  10. ^ a b "October 19th, 1967 - Flyers First Home Game". P. Anson. Retrieved October 18, 2010. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "NHL Attendance Leaders - National Hockey League". Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  13. ^ Morreale, Mike G. (7 October 2010). "Flyers spoil Pens' debut in new home with 3-2 win". Retrieved October 8, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Carchidi, Sam (July 2, 2011). "Flyers add Jagr and lose Leino–Talbot and Lilja also are in". Philadelphia Inquirer. p. D1. 
  15. ^  
  16. ^ Seravalli, Frank (April 2, 2012). "STOKING the FLYERS: Melee could be sign of playoff swings to come with Penguins". Philadelphia Daily News. p. 78. 
  17. ^ Associated Press (April 2, 2012). "Flyers coach, Penguins assistant fined by NHL". National Hockey League. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  18. ^ Stanley Cup Predictions
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