This was a very interesting crossroads series- a young up and coming Penguins against a veteran Flyer team that, contrary to what I once though, did not have a ton of old guys (only 6 players on this roster were 30 or older), but had a lot of playoff experience and postseason mileage.
To set this up, Philly had gotten by regular season Patrick Division champ Washington in round 1, Pittsburgh swept the Rangers in 4.
Pittsburgh posted their first winning record in a long time, Philly had their first non-winning season since 1972, so it wasn’t exactly preordained.
Obviously, Mario Lemieux’s 5 goal 8 point explosion in game 5 is hard to forget:
But this series had other things going on:
-Tim Kerr (in what turned out to be his last mostly healthy season) was no scoring slouch with 10 goals and 15 points, including a 1st period hat trick in game 2
-Brian Propp, by far the longest tenured Flyer (a holdover from the 35 game unbeaten streak season), had 6 goals and 11 points
-Propp and Kerr combined to score nearly half of Philly’s goals that series (16 of 31)
-Zarley Zalapski outscored Paul Coffey (8 points to 6)
-Pittsburgh won an OT game at the Spectrum- Remember, they went eons without winning there, then won twice there in the regular season, and game 3 of this series- so now they had won 3 straight there after 15 years with zero wins!
-Tom Barrasso had an .874 save percentage, far from the playoff form he would soon display within a few years
The Flyers never led this series until they clinched (lost games 1-3-5)
-Ron Hextall chasing after Rob Brown
Hextall then was unable to go in game 7 due to a knee injury
Ken Wregget, who would one day become Barrasso’s teammate and arguably the best backup goalie in the 90s, stopped 39 shots with barely any time to prepare.
It’s fascinating to see how this series played out considering within 3 years, the Pens had back to back Cups and the Flyers had gone into a mini-decline until Lindros arrived.
It was one last hurrah for the players that represented that Flyers era, kinda like a reverse equivalent of 1985 when Philly was the young team against a grizzled veteran Islander team
Was this a classic case of “you have to lose before you learn how to win” ala Canucks/Oilers 1992 or was this the veteran team overachieving for one last moment in the sun? Could and should Pittsburgh have won this series?