The Philadelphia Flyers–Washington Capitals rivalry is a National Hockey League (NHL) rivalry between the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals. Both teams compete in the NHL's Eastern Conference Metropolitan Division. The two teams have been rivals since the Capitals inception in the 1974-75 season, but became most intense in the 1980s when the Capitals joined the Patrick Division. The rivalry was renewed in the late 2000s and 2010s with both teams being equally competitive resulting in two playoff matches in 2008 and 2016.
|First meeting||November 9, 1974|
|Latest meeting||March 4, 2017|
|Next meeting||To be determined|
|Regular season series||111–81–19 (PHI)|
|Postseason results||16–13 (WSH)|
|Current win streak||WSH: W2|
|1984 Patrick Division Semifinals: Capitals won, 3–0
1988 Patrick Division Semifinals: Capitals won, 4–3 1989 Patrick Division Semifinals: Flyers won, 4–2 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Flyers won, 4–32016 Eastern Conference First Round: Capitals won, 4–2
Due to the proximity of each team, Philadelphia and Washington were natural rivals, especially with Interstate 95. It was often common at the Capitals arena, the Capital Centre, for it to be filled with many Flyers fans during the meetings. This led to an intense hatred for Capitals fans, and became even more intense when they would join the Flyers in the Patrick Division. After struggling for close to a decade, the Capitals finally made the playoffs in 1983, but would not meet the Flyers until the next season. Washington, then led by Mike Gartner and Rod Langway, got their first playoff series win in franchise history by defeating Philadelphia in the 1984 Patrick Division semifinals 3-0 in a best-of-5. This stunning sweep would also mark the end of two legendary Flyers careers, Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber.
The two teams would meet again in the 1988 Patrick Division Semifinals. This time, Philadelphia would take a 3–1 lead, only to have Washington come back and force a game 7. The two teams sent the game into OT, and Washington forward Dale Hunter would win it for Washington, making it one of the greatest playoff memories in team history.
Philadelphia would get their revenge the following season in 1989, as the Flyers would win the series 4–2. The series is perhaps best remembered for a historical feat committed by Philadelphia goaltender Ron Hextall. Hextall became the first NHL goaltender to score a goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs, by shooting the puck into the empty net. Hextall was also the first to do that feat in the regular season, having done it the year before.
Perhaps the most notable moment of the rivalry in the 1990s was of a fight filled game at the Capital Centre. On February 10, 1991, Philadelphia and Washington faced off in one of the most violent games between the two teams. The first period was fight filled, but the most notable moment happened in the third period with the Caps leading big. Capitals forward Dale Hunter laid a vicious elbow to the face of Flyers defenseman Gord Murphy, which sent Flyers head coach Paul Holmgren into a frenzy, as he banged a stick against the plexiglass that separates the team benches and got in a shouting match with Capital head coach Terry Murray and enforcer Alan May. The Flyers would later respond with enforcer Craig Berube crushing Capitals goalie Don Beaupre behind the net. This led to another brawl and many fines for both teams. Each team was fined $5000 and Paul Holmgren was fine $1000 for his actions. Dale Hunter would go on to receive a 4-game suspension for his hit on Gord Murphy.
Another notable moment would be of another brawl, this time in The Spectrum. Flyers goalie Ron Hextall and Caps forward Rob Pearson would get into a notable scrum in February, 1995, but would be the last notable moment between the two teams for many seasons.
The rivalry would grow dormant throughout the rest of the decade, as the two teams would not meet in the playoffs in the newly constructed Atlantic Division. With the 1998 realignment moving Washington into the Southeast Division, the rivalry grew even more dormant, especially as Washington would begin to struggle.
21st century Edit
With the arrival of the Capitals new, young star Alexander Ovechkin, this led to a rebirth of the intensity between the two teams. After 19 seasons, the two teams would finally meet again in the 2008 Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Capitals star Alex Ovechkin made an impact early, as he scored the game-winning goal in Game 1. Philadelphia would go on to win the next 3 games, with game 4 being won by Flyers forward Mike Knuble in double-overtime. In memories of the 1988 series, Washington would force a game 7 back in Washington, this time with Philadelphia coming out on top, with Flyers forward Joffrey Lupul winning the series for Philadelphia.
The rivalry became its most intense since the 1980s, especially during the 2013-14 season. Philadelphia were off to a miserable start to the season, and would face Washington on November 1, 2013. Washington would crush Philadelphia 7–0 in Philadelphia, with Flyers fans chanting for GM Paul Holmgren to be fired. But the most notable moment of the game was the line-brawl during the third period. Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds would dish out a huge hit on Capitals defenseman Steven Oleksy, which would lead to Simmonds dropping the gloves with the Capitals Tom Wilson, leading to a brawl. Flyers goaltender Ray Emery would join in and fight Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, who was an unwitting combatant. Emery was given two minutes for instigating, two for leaving the crease, five for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct. Despite the controversy surrounding the brawl, the Flyers cited the game as a rally cry, and would make the playoffs, despite the slow start to the season.
Later that season, on March 5, 2014, the two teams would engage in another fight filled game. This time in an eventual 6–4 Flyers win, the brawl would start early as Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn checked Caps forward Ryan Stoa into the boards, which led to a fight between Schenn and Tom Wilson. At the same time, the Flyers Vincent Lecavalier and Capitals John Erskine fought, as did Wayne Simmonds and the Capitals Connor Carrick. The brawl, coincidentally, occured on the 10-year anniversary of the famous Flyers brawl with the Ottawa Senators.
After storming to make the playoffs, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals would face off in the 2016 Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The Capitals were the Presidents' Trophy winners and were heavily favored. Washington would take a 3–0 series lead, but Philadelphia would extend it to game 6, thanks to a brilliant 44-save performance by goaltender (and former Capital) Michal Neuvirth. Philadelphia would only have 11 shots during the game, the fewest in franchise history for a playoff game. Washington would win game 6, however, to win the series 4–2.
See also Edit
- National Hockey League rivalries
- Eagles-Redskins rivalry