Flyers fans (#notallFlyersfans) like to fancy themselves as an intimidating bunch. When your team identity was founded on the brawn and menace of the Broad Street Bullies, it only makes sense – especially in a town known for passionate fans of all local sports. But what may have worked in the 1970s doesn't work as well today and once again Philadelphia fans found themselves at the center of a bad behavior controversy last night.
As part of a tribute to founder Ed Snider, who recently passed away, fans at last night's game were given light-up bracelets. But after a dirty hit by Philadelphia's Pierre-Edouard Bellemare ignited a brawl in the third period, those bracelets went flying onto the ice, eventually leading to a delay of game penalty for the home team. Washington was already coasting to a third straight victory at the time (the Caps were leading 4-1) and the incident just gave the Caps more easy minutes at the end of the game.
It was not a good look. Even P.A. announcer Lou Nolan got fed up, telling the fans to "have some class" and, when that failed, disappointingly muttering "way to go."
There has already been a ton of indignation and blasted towards Flyers fans. I also know that Philly supporters get very sensitive when it comes to the black marks they've been stained with in the past (don't mention Santa Claus), so I'll just say this: It doesn't work.
You think the Washington Capitals are gonna get nervous playing Game 4 in your building? Nope. They will welcome all power plays that come to them and likely cash in on several of those opportunities – they've already scored eight with the man advantage in just three games. Think the refs are gonna call fewer penalties on the Flyers because they're worried what the fans think of them? Not a chance. If anything, the Flyers should not expect any breaks from the officials.
Before the game, some goober in a Ron Hextall jersey thought he could get inside Braden Holtby's head by bothering the Washington netminder during his pre-game routine on the bench. Guess what? Holtby made 31 stops on the night. The only goal he surrendered came off an incredibly deft play early by Michael Raffl.
It all makes me think back to the 2014 draft, which also took place at Wells Fargo Center. Now, commissioner Gary Bettman gets booed no matter where he goes. So of course he got booed in Philadelphia, even though the Flyers had already taken part in two Winter Classic outdoor games (hosting once) and were run by Snider, one of Bettman's closest allies. The fans booed long and lustily, I'm sure thinking they were blowing Bettman's mind. But Gary is a smart guy and he just stood there smirking – because it's always going to be his show in the end. He didn't well up in tears and run from the podium, he just waited.
So like the co-worker who still thinks Austin Powers impressions are funny, Flyers fans still think they're making a difference with their antics. But watch Wayne Simmonds' reaction again in the video above. Does he look impressed?