Capitals vs. Flyers: The Philthy Rivalry

Mar 5, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Vincent Lecavalier (40) and Washington Capitals defenseman John Erskine (4) fight during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Rivalries are what make sports exciting. While there are just a few rivalries in each of the three major sports, hockey has a ton of great ones. The Capitals have a good number of rivalries between other teams. Tonight the Caps will face off in DC against the Flyers as part of “Rivalry Night” on NBC Sports Network. NoVa Caps decided to take a look back at some memorable moments between these two teams.

These teams simply hate each other and are very close geographically. Separated 130 miles apart on I-95 from Washington to Philadelphia, it makes it easy for fans on either side to travel.

Before these teams were rivals in the Metropolitan Division, they were enemies in the Patrick Division dating back to the late 70’s/early 80’s. In 1984, led by Mike Gartner, the Capitals got their first playoff series win in franchise history by defeating the Flyers in the Patrick Division semifinals 3-0 in a best of five. The win also ended the careers of the last two “Broad Street Bullies”, Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber.

In 1988, the teams met once again in the Patrick Division semifinals. This time it was a seven game series and the Capitals were in a plight, trailing 3-1 in the series. The Caps rallied to force a game seven and Dale Hunter’s game winning goal in overtime will be forever remembered as one of the great playoff memories in team history.

The Flyers would get revenge the following season, beating Washington in six games in the semifinals and then the rivalry was on the decline as the teams waited 19 years before they finally met in the playoffs again.

In 2008 the rivalry was reborn for a new generation as both teams faced off in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Alex Ovechkin led the Capitals to their first postseason appearance in the “Young Guns”/”Rock The Red” era. Right from the get-go Ovechkin made a splash as he scored the game-winning goal in Game 1.

The Capitals would drop the next three games, putting them in a 3-1 hole. However, they rallied to force a Game 7 at Verizon Center. In the decisive game, the Capitals lost a heartbreaker. Joffrey Lupul’s power-play goal in overtime ended their season.

The Capitals and Flyers have not met in the postseason since, but there have been a few good memorable fights. One example is a fight between Flyers Scott Hartnell and former Capital Troy Brouwer on March 4, 2012. The Caps lost that game 1-0. Check out how Brouwer slams into Erik Gustafsson into the door of the Capitals bench, which opened right when the hit happened.

One of the biggest fights happened on November 1, 2013 in Philadelphia. There was an all out brawl between both teams, even the goaltenders got involved; Washington won that game 7-0.

The following month, Tom Wilson leveled Brayden Schenn:

These were just a few of the many great games and moments between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers, a rivalry that stretches down I-95. Starting tonight and moving forward, whenever these teams take the ice, expect a lot of hate, a lot of fights, and some more incredible moments.

By Michael Marzzacco

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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