Throughout the 2011-12 season, the Philadelphia Flyers were given the nickname "The Comeback Kids." Our boys in Orange had a knack for digging themselves into a deficit, but rallying back in the later frame, gaining at least a point in the standings from the emotional tilt.
Glancing back at a handful of these games, I asked myself a question; Which of these particular comebacks involved goals scored or goals assisted by the three big names that exited Philadelphia this offseason -- JvR, Carle and/or Jagr?
I began my search with the following qualifications --
- The Flyers either had to be behind or tied going into the 3rd period.
- One or more of these three players were involved on game-winning goals or goals sending the game into extra minutes.
- The Flyers had to gain at least a point in the standings.
Before I begin listing these matches, please remind yourselves how tightly the Top 8 seeded Eastern Conference teams concluded by the regular season's end. Philadelphia was easily in the toughest Division, which housed four of its five Clubs in the Playoffs.
So each and every single point in the standings crucially counted.
October 15, 2011 - LAK @ PHL
Though this game was lost in overtime, it was Matt Carle's late 3rd period, PPG that equalized the scoreboard and sent us into the extra frame, earning us a point in the standings. James van Riemsdyk assisted on Carle's potted puck as well.
December 2, 2011 - PHL @ ANA
Philly rallied from an 0 - 3 deficit, making a 2-goal comeback in the 3rd period which bought them the game winner in overtime by Claude Giroux. Jaromir Jagr potted a PPG and assisted on Hartnell's lit lamp in the 3rd period.
December 15, 2011 - PHL @ MON
Both Jagr and Carle assisted on Andrej Meszaros' game-winning goal scored in the 3rd period which broke the 2 - 2 tie heading into the final frame of regulation.
January 5, 2012 - CHI @ PHL
As this back and forth battle grew toward the final seconds of the 3rd period, it seemed it was going to overtime. It was James van Riemsdyk who netted the GWG with only 33-ticks left on the clock.
Honorable mention goes to his first goal earlier in the 2nd period of the same match.
January 22, 2012 - BOS @ PHL
A very emotional tilt which Scott Hartnell racked a hat trick performance. Though it was #19 who built the foundation, Max Talbot was credited for Philadelphia's fifth goal in the 3rd which wound up rolling us into a shootout loss. Nevertheless, Matt Carle was the skater who tucked the puck from the point through a forest of legs in front of Tim Thomas' net. The deflection from Talbot's stick and Carle's assist are what earned the Flyers a point in the standings.
February 21, 2012 - PHL @ WPG
The Winnipeg Jets turned out to be one of those opposing squads that had Philadelphia's number all season long. In the four tilts we competed against eachother, The 'Peg came out with 7 out of 8-points.
When the Flyers finally snapped the losing streak against the Jets, it was Wayne Simmonds who came up HUGE in the final seconds of the 3rd period. Wayne "The Train" buried a goal with 10-seconds left on the clock. On the assist?
James van Riemsdyk, who brilliantly carried the rubber down the boards and made a no-look pass to an awaiting Simmonds in front of the twine.
Later in overtime (again) with only seconds to spare, Jaromir Jagr saluted the crowd after potting the game-winning goal.
April 1, 2012 - PHL @ PIT
As the last 20-minutes of regulation began, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh were tied, 2 - 2. The 3rd period had its fair share of lifted twine. The Flyers took all the control and scored four goals, giving them the 6 - 4 decision. Jakub Voracek came up big scoring two of those four, his second being assisted by Matt Carle.
Game 1 of the QuarterFinals - PHL @ PIT
I don't need to tell you how ridiculous this game was. If there was ever an example to explain why the Flyers were coined as "The Comeback Kids", Game 1 of our QF Series with the Pittsburgh Penguins is definitely it.
After allowing the Pens to go up 3 - 0 in the 1st, our boys in Orange threw together a 40-minute shutout performance in the last two frames. Meanwhile, they built a three-goal rally which threw both teams into a fanatical overtime period. But before the extra 20-minutes began, it was Brayden Schenn's game-tying PPG. Giving it to his former team was Jaromir Jagr, who assisted Schenn in sending the game to an extra period.
Credit Matt Carle --in overtime-- for threading the puck through the heavily populated slot and slam dunked by Voracek's stick. The comeback win set the tone for one of the NHL's greatest and oddest Playoff series our era will ever have the chance of witnessing again.
Game 2 of the QuarterFinals - PHL @ PIT
Jaromir Jagr scores one of four goals in the 3rd which began as a 4 - 4 tied game, resulting in a 8 - 5 win for Philadelphia, and a commanding 2 - 0 lead in the QF Series that we won in epic fashion.
Game 1 of the SemiFinals - NJD @ PHL
The beginning of what we all believed was going to be a Series win for the Flyers, New Jersey fell in OT to Danny Briere's GWG. Assisting Briere on his fist-pump action was Matt Carle, who passed the puck and opened the door for Briere to skate north to the point by pinching in and taking some of the attention off Danny.
Game 2 of the SemiFinals - NJD @ PHL
Yes, we didn't win this game nor did we win any other. And yes, even though the match went into overtime, the loser doesn't gain anything.
This is, more or less, an honorable mention.
Danny "Mr. Playoffs" Briere works his wizardry once more by beating (future Hall of Famer) Marty Brodeur midway through the 3rd. That tying goal came off a rebound sent on Marty by James van Riemsdyk. The puck was immediately scooped up and buried in New Jersey's cage by a crashing Danny Briere.
The play pushed us into overtime.
Because of the clutch contributions from James van Riemsdyk, Matt Carle and/or Jaromir Jagr, the Philadelphia Flyers finished with a total of 12pts against their 103pts in the Eastern Conference Standings. Without those 12pts (91) Philadelphia would have been good enough to finish 1pt shy of tying the 8th seeded Ottawa Senators.
Of course games don't operate and conclude in a vacuum. Any number of our other skaters could have stepped up and filled in where either JVR, Jagr or Carle tallied in these examples.
But what if they hadn't?
This article wasn't written to scare the Flyers fan out there. It's just here to give us all some perspective and prove (what we already know) that we have a number of players who need to step it up this upcoming season and fully accept the increase in responsibility.
Are our players capable of doing so? I whole heartedly believe that to be so. It's what comes with the territory of growing deeper into your potential. Each of these young guys we have, as well as our leaders, has a core within them built entirely of competitive, raw emotion and the need to win. Something that cannot be coached or taught.
In 2012-13 we're going to see our once "Comeback Kids" become "The Step Up Kids."
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