Ranking the 5 Most Clutch Players in Philadelphia Flyers History
Every great NHL team needs players who come through in the clutch, and the Philadelphia Flyers are no exception. Throughout the team's history, there have been players who come through in the biggest games when their team needs them the most.
Here are the top five clutch players in Flyers history. In the NHL, the biggest games are in the playoffs, so it should come as no surprise that the players included on this list shined brightest in playoff games for Philadelphia. Any games they played for other teams, postseason or regular season, do not count toward this list.
Game-winning goals, big saves and outstanding performances in key games count most toward this list.
Feel free to comment on any player on the list or mention a player you feel belongs. As always, indicate why you feel your choice should be on this list.
5. Rick MacLeish
Often overlooked by fans today, Rick MacLeish was a key part of the Flyers' two Stanley Cup wins.
MacLeish is the Flyers' all-time leader in playoff goals with 53. He is also first in franchise history with 10 game-winning goals in postseason competition.
The swift-skating center twice scored overtime game-winners, and he also registered three hat tricks in the postseason—one in 1973-74 and two in 1974-75.
MacLeish was also the first Flyers player to score 50 goals and 100 points in a season, which he did in 1972-73.
When the Flyers needed a big goal during their championship runs, MacLeish was often the man who came through.
4. Daniel Briere
Daniel Briere spent six seasons in orange and black, and although the Flyers did not win the Stanley Cup during his tenure with the club, Briere developed a reputation for coming through in clutch situations.
Briere registered nine playoff game-winning goals, one behind the franchise leader, and one of those winners came in overtime.
When Philadelphia reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2010, Briere was one of the team's leaders on and off the ice. In 23 postseason games, Briere scored 12 goals and 30 points. Both of those marks led the team.
Briere scored 37 goals in the playoffs for the Flyers and seemed to have the ability to raise his level of play when the game was on the line.
3. Ron Hextall
The Flyers would have never made their spectacular run to the 1987 Stanley Cup Final if not for the outstanding goaltending of rookie Ron Hextall.
How good was Hextall? He won the Conn Smythe Trophy that year as playoff MVP despite the fact that the Flyers lost in the final to Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers in seven games.
Hextall finished that postseason with a 15-11 record and a 2.77 GAA, outstanding statistics in the 1980s, an era that saw goals scored at a record pace.
In 1997, Hextall again helped the Flyers reach the Stanley Cup Final. He split time with Garth Snow in net during the playoffs, but it was Hextall who was between the pipes for the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers.
Hextall earned a reputation as a big-game goaltender, and the Flyers certainly benefited from that over the course of his career.
2. Bobby Clarke
No player in Flyers history has scored more overtime winners in the playoffs than Bobby Clarke.
Clarke was the captain of the Flyers' two Stanley Cup-winning teams, and his leadership and determination were key factors in the success of the "Broad Street Bullies."
On May 9, 1974, Clarke scored the goal that turned the Stanley Cup Final series around. The Flyers trailed in the series 1-0, and had they lost Game 2, they would have faced the prospect of returning to the Spectrum down 2-0 in the series.
Clarke put home a rebound past Boston Bruins goalie Gilles Gilbert at 12:01 of the extra session to even the series and give the Flyers momentum as they headed home for Games 3 and 4.
His outstanding play on faceoffs throughout the series also was a key to the Flyers' success.
In each of the Flyers' two championship seasons, Clarke had 16 points in 17 games. He finished his career with 42 goals and 119 points in the postseason.
There is little doubt the Flyers would never have won either of their championships without the clutch play of Bobby Clarke.
1. Bernie Parent
The Flyers have won two Stanley Cups in their history. Both times they won it, goalie Bernie Parent won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
Parent's clutch play throughout the 1974 and 1975 playoffs were the difference for the Flyers. In 1974, he finished with a 2.02 GAA and a .933 save percentage. In 1975, he registered a 1.89 GAA and a .922 save percentage.
He registered a total of six shutouts in those two playoff years, including both Cup-clinching games.
Parent not only made a lot of saves, but he made them at key times, keeping his team from falling behind when they were not playing their best.
Injuries limited Parent during the 1976 playoffs. Had he been healthy, it is very possible the Flyers could have captured a third straight championship.