I was there.
You could make a pretty compelling argument that the Flyers are the worst team in the NHL right now, but I’m a diehard fan. I had the ticket, and I was going to go.
And it was a pretty exciting game. The Flyers’ only goal came on on a delayed penalty call—so delayed that the Flyers had time to pull their goalie to add a man on offense. (For the hockey-impaired among you, that’s a safe thing to do because the penalty on the Rangers would go into effect as soon as a Ranger took possession of the puck.) Peter Forsberg passed the puck to Mike Knuble, who was advancing on the net. Knuble, in turn, sent the puck to Joni Pitkanen, who was right in front of the crease. Goal! A real beauty, too. The game was tied.
The other highlight of the game also occurred in the second period. Flyer Ben Eager checked Ranger Jason Krog so hard that Krog went over the boards and into the Flyers bench. Krog got his revenge, though, scoring the winning goal in the third period.
As I said, it was an exciting game, but I’m afraid there was quite a bit of luck in that. The Flyers certainly don’t look good. One of their power plays was so badly disorganized that the fans were howling. (Philly fans aren’t shy, of course.) And the Rangers outshot the Flyers considerably, 35-18. Flyers goalie Robert Esche rarely had time to breathe; the action, it seemed, was almost always just a few feet away from him. Esche played awfully well, but it takes more than a good, on-form goalie to make a team….
One random comment about the game: When each and every fan is bundled up for winter, there’s just not a helluva lot of room in a seat. One of my neighbors’ puffy, downy coats seemed to have just as much of my seat as I did. I yearned to breathe free.