Quick Hits: May 26, 2023
1) IIHF World Championship: The semifinal round of the 2023 World Championship is set for Saturday in Tampere, Finland. Team Canada (Scott Laughton) will play Latvia at 7:20 a.m. EDT while Team USA (Cutter Gauthier and, if he plays, Ronnie Attard) will face off against Germany at 11:20 a.m. EDT. The winning teams will play for the gold medal, while the losing sides will try for the bronze. Both medal games are on Sunday morning our time.
2) Flyers general manager Danny Briere is Jason Myretus on Friday's edition of the Flyers Daily podcast. Briere, the 10th general manager in Flyers' history, discusses his theoretically ideal roster build strategy, the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, top prospect Cutter Gauthier and more in the 25-minute episode. To listen, click here
3) There are rumblings that Briere and new president of hockey operations Keith Jones are planning to make several changes this offseason in the hockey ops side; some of which may have already gone down but have not yet been publicly announced.
It's been rumored but NOT yet officially confirmed that Alyn McCauley's player personnel director role will be expanded this summer. Phantoms assistant coach Riley Armstrong (who already worked under Briere before with the ECHL's Maine Mariners) may be shifting to a prominent player development staff role. Additionally, after 29 straight years of working in the management side of NHL hockey and 33 consecutive years in coaching and then in management, 67-year-old Mike O'Connell may be retiring from his role as the organization's senior advisor on player development.
Again, take it with a grain of salt, because none of it is officially confirmed. However, these rumored moves are all quite plausible given the organizational direction. There are other rumored changes that seem more speculative in nature at present.
4) Today in Flyers History: May 26, 1987 (Stanley Cup Final Game 5)
Trailing the Stanley Cup Final three games to one, the Flyers begin a near-miraculous push back in the series with a comeback 4-3 road win over the Edmonton Oilers in Game Five of the series. After trailing by scores of 2-0 and 3-1, the Flyers scored three unanswered goals, capped off by Rick Tocchet's second tally of the game to put the Flyers ahead to stay with 14:34 left in regulation. Doug Crossman and Pelle Eklund (power play) notched second period goals to draw the Flyers even in the game before intermission. Ron Hextall made 31 saves, including eight in the third period, to nail down the win.
5) Today in Flyers History, May 26, 1995 (Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 4)
The Philadelphia Flyers, winners of the Atlantic Division championship during the abbreviated 1994-95 regular season, truly signified their re-emergence as Stanley Cup contenders in the playoffs. They did emphatically, taking out the Buffalo Sabres in five games in the first round and then sweeping the defending Stanley Cup champion New York Rangers in the conference semifinals.
In Game Four of the New York series, the Flyers had to go into hostile territory to wrap up series. The tense Madison Square Garden crowd exhorted the Rangers to extend the series but grew quiet as first period even strength and power play goals by defenseman Karl Dykhuis - playing arguably the best hockey of his entire NHL career during this series - portended impending doom as the Flyers built a 2-0 lead.
The Legion of Doom line furthered the Rangers' suffering. Scoring his third goal of the series, Mikael Renberg tallied to build a 3-0 lead as game-long dominance by his line paid off with a goal at the 12:29 mark of the second period. Less than two minutes later, Rod Brind'Amour started a sequence that ended with Anatoli Semenov beating Glen Healey to build an insurmountable 4-0 lead.
The Rangers finally got a puck past Ron Hextall (31 saves) in the final minute of the second period, but there was to be no third period miracle for the Blueshirts. The Flyers prevailed, 4-1, and advanced to the Conference Final for the first time since 1989.
Although the Flyers ultimately lost a hard-fought six-game series with the eventual Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils, it was clear that, after a five-year playoff drought, the Flyers were going to be in the thick of the Stanley Cup hunt for many years to come.
6) Today in Flyers History: May, 26, 2000 (Eastern Conference Final Game 7)
After once leading the Eastern Conference Finals three games to one, the Flyers suffer a heartbreaking 2-1 loss at home in Game 7 against the New Jersey Devils. A horrifying play in the first period - an open ice hit by Scott Stevens on Eric Lindros - leaves Lindros concussed and laying in a heap on the ice. Rick Tocchet's second period power play goal and a 16-save effort by Brian Boucher are rendered null by a pair of Patrik Elias goals, including the series winner with 2:32 remaining in the third period. The Flyers fire 27 shots on Martin Brodeur but generate only the Tocchet tally. The game is the final one that Lindros plays as a Flyer.
7) In Memoriam: Peter Zezel passed away at age 44 on May 26, 1999. He battled hemolytic anemia, a rare blood disorder. For more on Zezel's life, hockey career and tragic loss, see Flyers A-to-Z: Peter Zezel