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On This Date in Sports May 19, 1974: God Bless the Flyers

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Philadelphia Flyers become the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup, blanking the Boston Bruins in Game 6 at the Spectrum 1-0, as Goalie Bernie Parent takes home the Conn Smythe. Parent had a magical season, winning a record 47 games as the Flyers with the good luck charm of Kate Smith singing “God Bless America’ helped turn the Broad Street Bullies into champions.

Like the other expansion teams, the Flyers entered the league in the 1967/68 season. After struggling in their first few seasons, the Flyers got a boost when they began to take on a new edge and became the Broad Street Bullies in 1972. Leading the league in penalties and fighting the Flyers began to push themselves into contention. In the 1973/74 season, the Flyers got a big boost as Bernie Parent returned from the WHA. Parent won a record 47 games and the Vezina Trophy, as the Flyers under coach Fred Shero finished with the top record in the Western Division at 50-16-12.

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The Flyers doused the Atlanta Flames in four straight games to start their postseason run. In the semifinals, the Flyers were pushed to a seventh game by the New York Rangers, but with Kate Smith singing “God Bless America” in Game 7 the Flyers could not be beaten. The home team would win all seven games in the series, while Smith usually brought good luck to Philadelphia. During the season, the Flyers had a record of 36-3-1 when she sang her famous before games.

The Boston Bruins meanwhile were seeking their third Stanley Cup in five seasons, as they posted a league-best 52-17-9 record under coach Bep Guidolin. The Bruins were led by Phil Esposito who was the Hart Trophy winner, as NHL MVP, while Bobby Orr was the Top Defenseman again, winning the Norris Trophy for the seventh season in a row. The Bruins path to the finals saw them sweep the Toronto Maple Leafs and beat the Chicago Black Hawks in six games.

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The Boston Bruins got things started well in the Stanley Cup Finals, as they won the opener at Boston Garden 3-2 on a goal by Bobby Orr with 22 seconds left after the Philadelphia Flyers rallied from an early 2-0 deficit. The Bruins dominated the first period as Wayne Cashman and Gregg Sheppard lit the lamp. Orest Kindrachuk scored in the second to get Philadelphia back in the game while Bobby Clarke tied in in the third. Game 2 took on a similar script as Boston took a 2-0 lead in the first period with goals by Wayne Cashman and Phil Esposito. Bobby Clarke scored in the second period to cut the deficit to 2-1, with less than a minute left they would tie the game on a goal by Andre Dupont. In overtime, Clarke would get the game-winner to even the series with a 3-2 win.

Kate Smith rallied up the crowd before Game 3, but the Bruins again drew first blood as Johnny Bucyk 63 seconds into the game. The Flyers would quickly rally as they got goals from Tom Bladon and Terry Crisp in the first period to take the lead. Orest Kindrachuk and Ross Lonsberry added goals in the third as the Flyers took control of the series with a 4-1 win. Game 4 saw the Flyers get two early goals from Rick MacLeish and Dave Schultz, while the Bruins tied it with goals by Phil Esposito and Andre Savard in the first period. The game remained tied until the third period when Bill Barber scored with 5:35 left to give Philadelphia the lead. Andre Dupont added a goal as the Flyers won the game 4-2 to take a 3-1 series lead.

The Bruins facing elimination came out strong at home in Game 5, crushing the Flyers 5-1. However, with Kate Smith singing “God Bless America” the Flyers could not be denied, as Bernie Parent was brilliant stopping 30 shots to win the Conn Smythe as Playoff MVP. The Bruins also got a strong game from Giles Gilbert, but a power-play goal by Rick MacLeish in the first period was the difference as the Flyers won the game 1-0 to capture the Stanley Cup.