The Philadelphia Flyers welcome the St. Louis Blues to the Wells Fargo Center for a 1 p.m. EST faceoff today on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. Craig Berube's second-place squad (37-25-7, 81 points) trails the Metropolitan Division-leading Pittsburgh Penguins by 13 points, but appear to be in good post-season position under the National Hockey League's new format.
Alfred Hitchcock was the acclaimed movie maker and TV personality back in the day. Ken Hitchcock is the Flyers' former assistant coach and head coach. As the team's top bench boss, 'Hitch' led Keith Primeau's spirited group to the 2004 Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
That epic seven-game series featured a possessed Primeau, Mark Recchi, John LeClair, Jeremy Roenick, Simon Gagne, Eric Desjardins, Sami Kapanen, Robert Esche and others. Philadelphia fell one win short of a Stanley Cup appearance that season. But, the Lightning did go on to hoist Lord Stanley's trophy. So, it's hard to argue that the better team lost.
Hitchcock's teams posted three consecutive 100-plus point seasons during his three full seasons (2002-03 through 2005-06, which incorporates the lockout season) in Philadelphia. Bob Clarke's resignation in the fall of 2006 directly led to Hitchcock's termination and the start of the Paul Holmgren era.
Vincent Lecavalier won a Cup with the Lightning in 2004, which stands as the only top team prize of his strong individual career. The veteran forward signed with Philadelphia in the off-season because he believed this organization is headed in the right direction. If the Flyers were to win three playoff rounds this spring, Hitchcock's Blues (who have a Western Conference-leading 101 points, 47-15-7) could well be waiting for them at the Final.
It's easy to reminisce about hockey's past. Predicting the future is always problematic. As for the present, this matchup features two sets of ice boys who are currently at the top of their game.