Flyers on brawl: 'Felt like a win'
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Even though the Philadelphia Flyers are second to last in the Eastern Conference and tied for second to last in the entire league, things are somehow looking up for the Broad Street Bullies after their 7-0 mugging at the hands of the Washington Capitals, which featured a third-period line brawl and a Ray Emery-Braden Holtby goalie fight so one-sided that the resulting controversy made everyone forget that John Scott is still employed in the NHL.
Emery was condemned around the league for dancing with an unwilling partner in Holtby, and when the Flyers’ netminder was given the third star of the game despite a .773 SV%, Philadelphia’s goon status was confirmed.
The Flyers seem to be embracing this identity, reports Philly.com. Left winger Scott Hartnell said his teammates “fed off” the physicality against the Capitals to grind out a 1-0 victory over the Devils — Emery recorded a shutout.
“We were excited,” Hartnell said of the fireworks with the Capitals. “Even though the crowd booed us the whole game, it felt like a win after that little scrum. We love it, fans love it here in Philly. It’s part of our heritage. We definitely fed off it.”
There were no fights to propel the Flyers to victory over the Devils, but Hartnell was undeterred. “We got to keep doing it. We can’t win one and lose two every time. It’s got to continue.”
It absolutely must if the Flyers are going to have any chance of salvaging a playoff spot from their dreadful start. Head coach Craig Berube knows that this Flyers team — stripped of veterans Danny Briere and the officially retired Chris Pronger — is struggling to craft an identity amidst a tailspin of missed points.
“Anytime a team sticks together and does things like that,” Berube said, “and cared about each other — good things happen after that.”
To add some perspective, the Flyers have the fifth worst plus/minus in the league and the fewest goals for, indicating poor defense and offense. Supposed superstar Claude Giroux has no goals and six assists through 13 games. The team is currently being backstopped by Steve Mason. Whatever problems the Flyers have, fighting isn’t going to solve all of them.
“We definitely have to play more consistent,” Berube remarked. “[Play] better hockey to get on a roll.” Whether or not beating opposing goalies into submission will rejuvenate the team remains to be seen. After all, if the season blows up, they can go right back to fighting.
Holtby could have suffered a serious injury, which would have caused a lot of problems for the Capitals. This is why it’s not too surprising that the NHL is reportedly going to discuss 10-game suspensions for goalies who leave their part of the ice to engage in a fight, according to Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press.