Broad Street vs Broadway: The Rangers-Flyers Rivalry
Last night, at Madison Square Garden, we saw the latest installment in one of sport’s greatest rivalries.
The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers continued their, now, 50-year-long grudge match with the boys from Philly taking the game 2-0 behind the superb goal tending of Steve Mason. The Rangers had won the two previous games played in the City Of Brotherly Hate-er-Love earlier this season. I don’t know about you but the game last night was as exciting as a root canal. I am not just saying that because I am a Rangers fan. Even if my beloved hockey team had won, I would feel the same level of apathy. It was astonishing to me just how much this rivalry has softened over the years. There was more bite and snarl in the deli I got my coffee at this morning.
When you think Rangers Flyers, you think intensity, you think angst, you think hate, you think win at all costs. After the end of the 2nd period, as the game remained scoreless, you had to wonder if any of the players had even broken a sweat. The lack of ferocity was tantamount to a preseason game. Once the Flyers finally broke through and scored on the Wayne Simmons power play goal, you thought maybe the Rangers would up their desperation level to try to equal the score. That did not happen. What did happen was a Ranger team that seemed to already have their minds in All Star break mode. Then, when the score became 2-0 Flyers, the Rangers officially packed it in for good. It was an extremely disappointing evening. Losing is one thing. Going out with a whimper is another.
The Rangers and Flyers have a level of reciprocal hate that is the stuff of legend. This goes way beyond the natural, logistical, geographical rivalry of New York and Philadelphia. These are two franchises who despise each other. We had Dave “Hammer” Schultz pounding Dale “The Nail” Rolfe of the Rangers in the 1974 playoffs. Do you recall, ‘buy a Porsche Hextall, buy a Porsche”? Flyers goalie Pelle Lindbergh had crashed his Porsche and died so when Ron Hextall became the Flyer goalie, Ranger fans serenaded him with this sing-song chant. Classy, huh? In the early 1980s, Flyers coach Bob McCammon labelled the Rangers as “Smurfs” because he felt they were soft and resembled the cartoon characters. The Rangers went on to sweep the Flyers in the playoffs that year. The two franchises have met in the playoffs on numerous occasions with each coming out victorious several times. Their last post season battle was in 2014 when the Rangers won in 7 games as they marched towards the Eastern Conference Championship.
Who could forget the 2012 Winter Classic?
I know you Flyer fans have tried. In Citizens Bank Ball Park, home of the Phillies, the Rangers and Flyers met in what would become a game for the ages. Mike Rupp scored twice and Henrik Lundqvist stoned Danny Briere on a penalty shot in the game’s final seconds to give the Rangers a memorable 3-2 victory. There are a plethora of other wonderful moments during this 50 year rivalry but to me, the rivalry isn’t nearly what it used to be. You could throw out records, standings and sportsmanship any time these teams battled. Now a days, the games are seemingly, as we saw last night, just another contest which is very sad. Rangers Flyers was always edge-of-your-seat action. You never knew when a melee would break out. There were probably more skirmishes in the stands at the Garden last night than on the ice.
I can’t speak to the point of view of Flyers fans. I don’t know if they feel as let down as I have been of late when these teams get together. The rivalry has something missing that is very tangible. I am not talking about fighting, either. You don’t need bench-clearing brawls for a game to be intense. The level of dislike between the franchises seems mitigated.
When the Rangers play the New York Islanders, you can cut the intensity with a serrated edge knife. When was the last moment during a Rangers Flyers game that you could put in the category of Rolfe and Schultz? When was the level of hate so extreme that Rangers fans wanted the Flyers goalie to die in a fiery car wreck? I saw the Rangers play in Philadelphia last season. Not only wasn’t I harassed by the Flyer fans, many of them seemed congenial. Even the ushers in our section were as pleasant as can be. Not that I wanted to have beer spilled on me, not by any means. But, having obscenities hurled at me along with parts of a pretzel would have made my afternoon very interesting. Things have changed alright. Whether it is in the stands or on the ice, the rivalry between the Rangers and Flyers has become just another divisional match up. What do you think?
Two of my biggest passions are sports and rock music. Both of which, I have many strong and at times provocative opinions on.
My favorite bands are AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Pantera, and 80s Metallica and well, I have to admit I listen to a lot of Kiss, too.
My teams are the Mets, Jets and Rangers(I know, they all suck)
I've never met a place for buffalo wings that I didn't like.
I am a customs house broker by trade but I have this yearning to express my views on a variety of topics and blogging has become a great outlet for my voice.
In the words of the immortal Bon Scott, "Lock up your daughter and lock up your wife. Lock up your back door and run for your life. The man is back in town, so don't you mess me around"