Thursday, January 7, 2010
On this date in 1980, the Philadelphia Flyers NHL record 35 game unbeaten streak came to an end when they were defeated by the Minnesota North Stars 7-1 in front of 15,962 fans, the largest crowd in North Stars history.
The Flyers began the season by naming Bobby Clarke a playing assistant coach and making Mel Bridgman team captain.
The Flyers would win their first game of the season against the New York Islanders but then lose their second game against the Atlanta Flames on October 13th 9-2.
They would bounce back the next night by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 and commence the longest undefeated streak in NHL history. Two more wins would follow and then a 6-6 tie with the Montreal Canadiens had the streak at four games.
The Flyers would then go on a tear and win nine consecutive games before a tie with St. Louis would halt the winning streak, but keep the undefeated streak intact, which was now at 14 games.
The streak would continue to grow with two wins and then a tie, which was followed by another pair of wins, pushing the streak to 19 games and meant the Flyers finished the month of November undefeated.
Six ties and three wins to start December would increase the total to 28 games, tying the existing record held by the Montreal Canadiens. The Flyers would next win two more games followed by a tie and then another pair of victories to close out December undefeated and keep the streak alive at 33 games without a loss, putting them into a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA for the North American professional team record.
Victories on January 4 and 6 pushed the Flyers record to 26-1-10 and a record 35 games since their last loss back on October 13 prior to the defeat in Minnesota the next day after travelling from Buffalo the night before. The record still stands to this day.
During their streak they played every team in the league except the Washington Capitals and only twice during the 10 ties did the Flyers score the last goal to create the tie and preserve the streak. The Flyers were only outshot eight times during the streak, with the largest margin being in a tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 1, 1979 when the Leafs outshot the Flyers 40-25.
After defeating the Winnipeg Jets on January 10th and losing to the Canadiens on the 12th, the Flyers would have another 11 game unbeaten to run their season record to 35-3-13. They would go 13-9-7 the rest of the way, clinching the division with 14 games left in the season and total 116 points for the year.
Despite their regular season success, the Flyers failed to capture the Stanley Cup that season. They did defeat the Edmonton Oilers during the Oilers first NHL season in round one of the playoffs before knocking off the New York Rangers in round two. They got their revenge on the North Stars for ending their winning streak by beating them in five games to advance to the finals, but came up short against the New York Islanders in six games.
Ken Linseman led the Flyers that season with 79 points from 22 goals and 57 assists, while Reggie Leach hit the magic 50 mark to lead the team in goals. Linseman also led the club in playoff scoring with 22 points in 17 games, although their evenly balanced scoring saw three other players with 20 or more points. Phil Myre and Pete Peeters split the goaltending duties with Myre playing in 41 games and Peeters 40, with Peeters superior record of 29-5-5 easily out pacing Myre's 18-7-15 mark. The Flyers 20 ties that season was within 4 of the league record and prevented them from making a run at the all time single season team points record of 132 despite their long unbeaten streak.
Today's featured jersey is a 1979-80 Philadelphia Flyers Mel Bridgman jersey as worn during the Flyers record setting unbeaten streak.
Bridgman played 17 seasons in the NHL, totalling 977 games, 252 goals and 449 assists for 701 points. He was the first overall pick in the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft by the Flyers.
He would play for Philadelphia, the Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings and finish his career with the Vancouver Canucks. He would later be named the the first general manager of the Ottawa Senators.
Here is Mel Bridgman doing what the Flyers did best.