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Sunday, Apr 22, 2018
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Bolts Beat: Fight fight in Philly unnecessary

TAMPA — What an embarrassment Friday’s game between Philadelphia and Washington turned out to be, and it has nothing to do with the 7-0 victory for the Capitals.

Actually, on second thought, it does have something to do with the score. That’s because Flyers goaltender Ray Emery, who skated the length of the ice and started pounding on the back of the head of an unwilling combatant in Washington goalie Braden Holtby, said his actions came as a result of being embarrassed on the ice. So he took his frustrations out on Holtby.

How about stopping a few pucks? How about letting those actions speak for your frustration? If you don’t like what the Capitals are doing on the scoreboard, keep them off of it.

It’s no doubt been a frustrating start for a Flyers organization that always thinks it’s a Stanley Cup contender, as the loss to Washington dropped Philadelphia’s record to 3-9. In those 12 games, Philadelphia has scored a total of 12 goals. There has already been a change behind the bench and a trade — Max Talbot for Steve Downie — to shake things up.

Nothing the Flyers have done has turned around the slow start. But just when you thought it couldn’t get more embarrassing for Philadelphia, you have Friday night’s scene and the “If you can’t beat them, might as well beat them up” mentality.

And it’s just wrong that such a mentality is still accepted.

After the game Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren said the fights were the result of being slapped around on the ice and it was simply a “response” and he probably didn’t have a problem with it. Emery, meanwhile, knew that Holtby was not willing to drop his gloves but told him he better “protect himself because he didn’t have much of a choice.”

That sort of action should no longer be tolerated, especially in Philadelphia where that sort of culture has been fostered since the mid-1970s and the days of the Broad Street Bullies.

What that mentality provided for the Flyers is the loss of two players to injuries sustained in fights.

Vinny Lecavalier — who was involved in a fight during the early third-period fisticuffs — is out for an undetermined about of time with a facial laceration. And earlier in the game Downie, in his first game with the Flyers since the trade, took a punch to his left eye that eventually led to him being taken out of the building on a stretcher and rushed to the hospital after the game was over, where he remained Saturday night for observations.

This is not an argument against fighting — that’s a debate for another time — but rather a call for a change in mentality. In what other sport, when you are getting lit up on the scoreboard, is it acceptable to start throwing haymakers at an opponent for the sake of venting frustration? And to add an extra dose of embarrassment to the situation, Emery was named the game’s No. 3 star — in a game in which he allowed four goals on 15 shots in relief for a save percentage of .733 — solely for his actions with his fists while Holtby, who pitched a 30-save shutout, was not among the three stars.

The game of hockey is evolving, leading more and more toward a reduction — if not full out elimination — of fighting in the game.

But Friday’s actions show there is still a long way to go.

Not natural

On a side note, could the folks over at 401 Channelside Dr. let the fans’ reactions be more organic?

Why are they trying to start a signature chant after the home team scores in which public address announcer Paul Porter will announce the goal and finish it with “BE THE” hoping the fans will respond with “THUNDER,” which happens to be the team’s marketing slogan.

There are some very passionate and loyal fans at Lightning home games, why not just let them erupt in a loud, unprompted, enthusiastic cheer when the goal is announced.

Anything else — and there are other rinks that have something similar — just seems forced and to me, takes away from the atmosphere.


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