Flyers

Experiencing the Flyers-Penguins five overtime game for the first time

Experiencing the Flyers-Penguins five overtime game for the first time

The year 2000 — a new millennium. A time filled with flip phones, physically going out to rent DVDs and the longest game in modern NHL history — thanks to the Philadelphia Flyers and rival Pittsburgh Penguins.

At the start of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on May 4, 2000, no one knew just how long the game was going to be. Seriously, if anyone bet that this game was going to head into a fifth overtime, they would have been deemed crazy. 

Everyone knows how the game ends, a game-winning goal from Keith Primeau in the midst of his career — but what happened in those moments — or should I say hours, leading up to it? 

Considering I was 2 years old at the time this game was played and had already seen the iconic goal dozens of times, I never had the urge to sit down and watch a six-hour, 56-minute game … until now. 

NBC Sports has unveiled a new podcast series, “Sports Uncovered,” and our Philadelphia region took a deep dive into the game that is now known as “Marathon on Ice.” Before I had the opportunity to learn more about the behind-the-scene aspects, it also felt important to know the little details about the game — the energy from start to end, how the atmosphere shifted and just how much of a relief it was when it was finally over. 

Thankfully, there was a condensed version of the game in the NHL archives — condensed is a humorous word when it was still three hours in length. Essentially all stoppages of play, replays and commercials were cut out to speed things up. Still, I timed myself and paused the game every time I had to leave the room to grab water, lunch or the multiple Amazon packages filled with orders I had forgotten about. 

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The official time I started viewing the game was 10:56 a.m. and it finally concluded at 2:47 p.m.

While it’s nothing like experiencing it firsthand 20 years ago, I figured I’m not the only one who had never seen this game before. So, here are a few key things I took away from the game:

• Growing up, Simon Gagne was one of the most thrilling players to watch on the Flyers, so it was crazy to see him in his rookie season, first time in the playoffs and holding so much potential. He holds the top spot as my all-time favorite playoff goal — his game-winning overtime goal in Game 4 against the Bruins in 2010. This sparked the comeback in their seven-game series. 

In a game that was logged with an official time of 152:01, Gagne had 36 shifts and saw 27:28 of time on ice. That was second to last for both on the Flyers, only ahead of winger Valeri Zelepukin. 

Not many athletes can look back on their career and say they’ve been a part of so many historic playoff games — Gagne most certainly can. 

• Apparently this is easier said than done, but bring back these classic jerseys — for both teams, honestly. The late 1990s and early 2000s held some of the best hockey sweaters in league history. Even the Penguins’ logo was more bearable to look at — and that’s saying a lot. 

• In the 1999-00 regular season, the Flyers had the second best power play in the league. Up until the third period of this game, they went 0 for 18 in the series. On that 19th attempt, John LeClair scored right off the face off, tying the game at one apiece. Little did anyone know at the time that it was going to stay that way for a while. 

• Playoff hockey is the most thrilling time in sports every year — but when those games go to overtime, stress often goes into overdrive. You never know what’s going to happen — imagine having to sit on the edge of your seat for essentially another game and a half waiting for that next goal. 

LeClair and Daymond Langkow had the opportunity to shut everything down just 31 seconds into the first overtime, but the dreaded crossbar stopped it from happening. 

• Just past the halfway point of that first overtime, scores from games across other leagues that day appeared on the bottom of the screen. I had to pause the game for a minute to note that the Phillies absolutely demolished the Reds, 14-1. What a fun day in Philly sports to look back at. 

• Once the third overtime hit, it was very clear every shift was filled with exhausted players. There’s a reason why shifts are so short in 60-minute games — so having to have played more than two times the amount they typically do in one night is absurd. While players were tired and some of the crowd had thinned out by then, the energy never faltered. The atmosphere definitely shifted, but it wasn’t ever boring. It was playoff hockey, after all. 

• Even while fully knowing when and how the game was going to end, I caught myself saying, “How is this game still happening?”

I can’t even imagine watching this live, not knowing what to expect or being aware of when things would eventually end. Even with the amount of high-danger chances throughout the five overtimes, it really felt like they were going to be playing until the sun came up the following morning. 

• Primeau had been buzzing that entire game. It really was only a matter of time before he finally connected and put one past Penguins goaltender Ron Tugnutt. 

The Flyers eventually went on to win the series, but their playoff run fell short in the Eastern Conference Final against the Devils. It’s never the outcome a team wants to have, but at least the Flyers were able to come away with a little bit of history of their own — having won the third-longest game in the NHL.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Travis Konecny

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Travis Konecny

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October. 

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances. 

Today we will be looking at Travis Konecny. 

Destra

The Flyers would have been a fraction of the team it was this season without Konecny. You can’t say enough good things about the player he’s becoming. Now, at the end of his fourth season with the Flyers, he’s finally found exactly where he belongs on this roster. 

No. 11 has always been the kind of player to get under the opposing team’s skin — luckily, he’s on the Flyers' side. There was a distinct shift in confidence throughout the 2019-20 season and it was noticeable in all aspects of his game. While it could have something to do with his shiny new six-year contract, he also had a fresh start with the new additions behind the bench. 

Konecny dressed for 66 games this season and posted a team best in points with 61 (24 goals, 37 assists). This is the third straight season he’s ended with 24 goals, but had play not been suspended because of the growing COVID-19 concerns, he would have most likely found himself with a new career high. 

A+ for Konecny — and expectations are most definitely going to be raised moving forward.  

Emmer

This one is an easy grade.

The 2019-20 season was hands down Konecny’s best of his career. He was showing a more confident style that we hadn’t seen before, making more risky plays with the puck, taking more chances and capitalizing — all of which was portrayed in his 61 points in 66 games, which led the team.

He also stepped up on the Flyers’ improved power play this season, recording five goals and 18 assists on the man advantage. He was a spark plug — he consistently brought energy to the bench and to the game, especially when he made it on the score sheet.

His confident play landed him his first All-Star selection and his improved shooting percentage was a major key to the Flyers' offense.

A for Konecny.

Fordyce 

Konecny is an easy grade for me — it’s an obvious A. When Konecny is playing well, it’s infectious and has an effect on the entire team. The energy and spark that No. 11 plays with on a nightly basis is one of the most valuable parts of T.K.'s game.

This was a big growth season for Konecny, too, as he played a more disciplined game and shed some of the bad habits which had cost him and the Flyers in previous seasons with penalties and so forth. That can’t be understated. 

Now let's look at the numbers. In 66 games this season, Konecny equaled his career high in goals and if it were a normal season, it’s a virtual lock that he would have a new career high. Konecny’s 61 points were a career high and while he maintained his status as a scoring threat, he became more of a playmaker, dishing out a career-high 37 assists, 12 more than his previous high. 

This is certainly a player the Flyers will rely on in the future and this season was a huge leap. 

A for Konecny. 

Hall

On the heels of signing a new six-year, $33 million deal, Konecny had six three-point performances in 2019-20 after having a combined two over his first three NHL seasons.

That's big-time growth from a 23-year-old foundation piece.

Konecny led the Flyers in goals (24) and points (61) through 66 games. His 37 assists were a career high and he was one marker away from a new personal best.

The Flyers went 31-9-2 when he recorded at least a point and 10-9-5 when he had gone scoreless.

Konecny deserves an A for taking huge strides and backing up his contract.

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2019-20 Flyers season grades: Kevin Hayes

2019-20 Flyers season grades: Kevin Hayes

The 2019-20 NHL regular season has concluded and the next time the puck drops will officially kick off the race to the Stanley Cup. The Flyers are hungry and ready to battle it out, but that is thanks to the hard work from back in October.

In an End to End series, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Joe Fordyce and Jordan Hall will be grading players based on individual performances.

Today we will be looking at Kevin Hayes. 

Destra

Man oh man am I thrilled to be giving Hayes the grade he’s getting today. This time last year, Flyers fans were beyond the point of disappointment at the signing of the center — it’s safe to say things have taken a turn for the best. The Hayes signing was instantly justified before the 2019-20 season was even in full swing because of the news about Nolan Patrick and his migraine disorder. Had he not been brought in, the lines down the middle would have been very weak. 

Hayes didn’t miss a single one of the 69 games the Flyers played this season. During that time, he racked up an impressive 41 points (23 goals, 18 assists). He also had a career best in shorthanded goals (four) and game-winning goals (five). 

On top of the player he has been on the ice, Hayes has also helped the Flyers in many other ways. He’s a big personality and jumped into a leadership role almost instantly. I’d say he exceeded expectations on the first year of his contract. 

A+ … not bad for a former ref

Emmer

Kevin “I used to ref” Hayes brought a lot of excitement in his first year with the orange and black.

Because of the shortened season, Hayes recorded 23 goals in under 70 games, just two markers short of his career high. His 200-foot style that was anticipated in the preseason thrived in many ways throughout the year, especially on the penalty kill.

Last season, the Flyers' PK ranked 26th in the league, operating at 78.5 percent. This season, the PK ranked 11th at 81.8 percent — Hayes had a lot to do with it. He also led the team with four shorthanded goals — the most in his career.

Offensively, you could argue his consistency could have been stronger. He had a stretch in early November during which he went 10 games without a point and another six-game drought in early February, but when he did end up making it on the score sheet, he was a game-changer. The Flyers were 19-0-1 when Hayes scored a goal during the regular season; he was a spark plug out there. He loved big-game situations, as well — five game-winning goals can attest to that.

Away from his skill, Hayes brought energy, fun off the ice and extremely creative nicknames (very important). 

A- for Hayes.

Fordyce 

Hayes began his Flyers tenure with a big contract and big expectations. Last offseason, Hayes signed a seven-year, $50 million deal, which raised some eyebrows. At that time, Hayes had eclipsed the 20-goal plateau only one time in his career. However, through 69 games this season he had 23 goals, just two short of his career high, and he almost certainly would have bested that if the Flyers had played a full 82 games. 

Hayes delivered the full package to a team that desperately needed that when it signed him after trading for his contractual rights ahead of free agency. His two-way game is his most valuable asset and this season we’ve seen Hayes single-handedly kill penalties by keeping possession of the puck. It’s one thing to sign a big-time deal, it’s another to deliver on the expectations set forth by said deal. Additionally, Hayes is an invaluable member of the team in terms of locker room chemistry.

Hayes gets an A.

Hall

During his first regular season with the Flyers, Hayes more than lived up to the hype and pressure of signing a seven-year, $50 million deal in this city.

While we tend to fixate on offensive production in this game, especially for higher-paid players, Hayes had an immeasurable impact on the Flyers in the locker room, which can be just as important as any statistic.

But statistically speaking, he also did plenty of good things. Not only did the 28-year-old center make the Flyers tougher to play against, but he was also on pace to break his career high of 25 goals (he finished with 23 in 69 games) and did wonders for the team's penalty kill. In fact, Hayes scored four shorthanded goals, the same number the Flyers put up as a team in 2018-19 over a full 82-game season.

An A- for Hayes because his impact has already been felt in a multitude of ways.

Sports Uncovered is on all podcast platforms: click here to subscribe now!

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More Flyers grades