This will be the fourth time the Caps and Flyers have faced off in the postseason, with the Caps winning a pair of series (1984 and 1988) and the Flyers taking the 1989 match up.
And while the playoff history between these two teams has created some of the most memorable moments in either franchise's history, the games (be they regular or post-season) have usually had a common denominator - brutally physical play. Case in point, the Caps have only had more fighting majors against Boston and Atlanta since 1998-99 than they have had against Philly, proving that you can take the Caps out of the Patrick Division, but you can't take the Patrick Division out of the Caps.
Given that the Flyers plan to ramp up the physical play for the 2008 edition of the rivalry (to the delight of Pierre McGuire and others), I thought I'd take a moment and recap some of the pugilistic highlights of the teams' shared history (and if you like YouTubes of hockey fights - and who doesn't? - this is the post for you):
- In the three playoff series between the two teams, there have been 46 fighting majors in 16 games. Check out, for example, the first period of Game 3 of the 1984 Patrick Division Semifinals - seven minor penalties (including five hi-sticks and a rough), ten fighting majors and five 10-minute misconducts. 114 PIMs in one period. But that's nothing...
- The top home and road games for Caps, opponents and combined penalty minutes have both come against the Flyers in Washington blowout wins - a 6-0 win at Philly on December 21, 1980 in which the teams combined for 344 PIMs (check out Archie Henderson and Behn Wilson, not once, but twice) and a 5-2 home win on February 10, 1991 in which the teams combined for 294 penalty minutes.
- In a totally separate game (a 4-4 tie on March 27, 1982), the Caps and Flyers combined for 208 penalty minutes in a 49 second span of the second period.
- Six times a Flyer has had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick against the Caps, most recently Ron Sutter back in 1991.
- Alex Ovechkin's first NHL fight was against the Flyers' Mike Richards in a preseason game back in September, 2006.
- Speaking of Richards, he chucked knuckles with Brooks Laich earlier this season and had a bloody nose (and a win in the fight) to show for it.
- Another few bouts from this season - Chris Clark and Scott Hartnell, Matt Bradley and Jason Smith and former Cap Brian Sutherby against former Fly-boy Ben Eager.
- Donald Brashear has fought as a Flyer against the Caps six times since 1998-99 (here's one against Stephen Peat - watch out for that left, Peat! - and another for good measure), and against the Flyers as a Cap twice (earlier this season against Riley Cote, who he also fought in the preseason).
- Former Cap and Flyer Craig Berube was never afraid to start something, as a Flyer running Don Beaupre here (igniting the brawl you can see detailed at 12:04 of the third period here) and coming in with elbows high on an incredibly well-disciplined Scott Stevens here.
- While we're on the topic of goalies getting run, if you touched Scott Stevens' goalie - even if he pushed you into the goalie - you were going to answer. What a stud (seen brawling with the Flyers' Jeff Chychrun at the other end of the ice here). By the way, nice work by Smokin' Al on the color in those last few clips.
- You didn't think we'd get through this list without a little more Dale Hunter and Ron Hextall did you?
- The late John Kordic and Terry Carkner fought on February 10, 1991. Kordic played just seven games for the Caps, but racked up 101 PIMs, including 22 on that night.
- Bonus clip, with a special guest at the 1:08 mark.
- Here are Keith Jones and Joe Sacco throwing for some reason,and here's a real lightweight bout.
- Finally, if you like a good ol' fashioned bench-clearer, this one from back 1980 is for you (and here's another).
It's good to be back among old friends, no?
Big ups to Hockeyfights.com and Flyers History for making this post worthwhile.