Let me preface this by saying that I am a Penguins fan who has always lived in Flyers territory. My dad has always been a Flyers fan, so I don't know how I ended up a Pens fan at age 6, but I'm certainly not complaining. But, as you might imagine, growing up in hostile territory hasn't always been easy, especially since I've never really known any other Pens fans here personally. The last few years have been great because I've been able to gloat for once. That said, I've had probably more reason to hate the Flyers than most, and I've done so as much as possible without hurting my family's feelings (too much) over the years. I've never seen a Pens game in Pittsburgh, as a 6-7 hour drive is a bit much for a guy without a car, and without enough money to spend on gas and a hotel (all my money goes to college...). I've seen several in Philly though, so I'm no stranger to the Wachovia Center.
Friday night, however, I went with my dad to the Wachovia Center to watch the historic game 7 against the Bruins on the Jumbotron (free admission and parking, why not?). I was torn obviously about even wanting to go (who to root for??) but the chance to see history was too much to pass up. And honestly, I gotta say, I was pretty impressed with what the Flyers had done to come back that far. Then I got there and I remembered why I hate Flyers fans so much.
But in the end, when they pulled off that amazing comeback I had to stand up and applaud with the rest of the neanderthals. It takes a lot of guts and passion to do what they did, something the Pens just didn't have. They battled through injuries, they had folk heroes, they had amazing comebacks, they had heart, and they had belief in themselves. All the things, in short, that we had last year, and what I now realize were missing this year. The only player who could be considered a kind of folk hero would be Staal with his courageous return, but the one big comeback against Ottawa didn't even feel as special as last year.
On the other hand, there is now something more heartbreaking than being a Pens fan right now. Being a Bruin's fan. Talk about being on the wrong side of history. But I digress. After the jump, pictures and analysis of the lion's den.
Philly's no Montreal. They didn't have the entire arena rocking tonight. But they did have most of it filled, although most of the uppermost levels were closed off. That said, they didn't boo every time one of their players tripped over his own skates, which I'll give them credit for too. They seem to at least know hockey a little better than a city which you think would know hockey better than anybody. They also care a lot about their team, which however inexplicable, deserves recognition, especially when that team hasn't won the Cup in 35 years. Plenty of high-fives during and after the game too, even toward someone like me who clearly could care less about their team, so they're somewhat friendly. Just stupid and drunk.
As you can see the place was electric. It was some kind of atmosphere. Not even a sellout crowd but it was three times louder than I've ever heard it, and more when they won. It made me vow to see a Pens playoff game (preferably Finals game) in the very near future. Let me just say by the way that I knew as soon as they went down 3-0 in the game that they were going to come back. It makes me wonder what would have happened if the Pens had only let in 3, not 4. Again, better not to think of these things.
Tying goal, going nuts (sorry for crappy video, my cell phone is what it is):
I gotta give them credit. It was poetic, it was inspiring. But why why WHY did it have to be the Flyers????? Except for Washington, couldn't ANY other team have made history this year? Still, Montreal will kill em. There's always that to keep in mind.
After they won- more subdued than was actually the case, this is about 15-20 seconds after time ran out:
Halls after the game. Random guys high-fiving everybody. Hugs, beer, screaming. I wish we had something to cheer about...
Because Flyers fans appreciate it when you define big words for them.
That's all from me. It was a scary place to be, but I can at least say that I was there when only the third team ever to come back from 3-0 did so. And hey, we're no longer the last team to give up that lead.