If the Flyers Win Five Games in a Row and No One is There to See It, Did it Really Happen?

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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Don’t look now, but the Philadelphia Flyers are actually a good hockey team again.

Actually…

You should look now. Please do. Take notice of this team. I know it sounds weird to hear me begging you to do so, but there is a reason I’m doing this: these Flyers deserve your attention and support.

Yes, I know there is some bad blood between the organization and their fans that has nothing to do with the players, coaches, or anyone in the hockey operations side of things with the team.

Yes, some – actually a lot – of business decisions being made by the new brass have rubbed fans the wrong way. There are some fans who were completely affronted by the huge spike in ticket prices this year after another season of mediocrity and missed playoffs.

There are some fans who feel like their access to the team has diminished as more and more season ticket holder perks have been altered or taken away altogether. And while some would argue there is a sense of entitlement with some of those fans – and I don’t disagree – paring back access at a time when the team has been off the radar of the city’s sports landscape for so long was probably not the right time.

There are other things, too – I’ve heard from season ticket holders , including those with partial plans, who say the same level of service from their ticket reps has eroded. That the fans used to be treated as family, and now they aren’t at all.

And of course, there is the whole segment of the fan base – small though it might be, but still out there – who are still mad at the team at their fumbling of the Kate Smith debacle.

But whatever the reason fans are mad at the team, there is no reason – none – that a game between a white hot Flyers team and a highly-skilled and talented Toronto Maple Leafs team with some of the brightest stars in the sport – should draw just 15,811 fans.

Let that number sink in for a second – 15,811 at Wells Fargo Center, a building that averages close to 20,000 per game for Flyers hockey since it opened in 1996.

And the worst part of it is, that is the announced paid attendance. The building wasn’t even that full. The number of actual butts in seats, which the team never releases publicly, was likely in the 12-13,000 range.

I started looking through past seasons and I couldn’t find a home game at Wells Fargo Center that was ever that small, other than games that may have been affected by a snow storm.

I may have missed one – It’s possible as my eyes started going buggy after awhile looking through 23 years worth of attendance figures – but if not, this well could have been the smallest crowd to ever see a Flyers game at Wells Fargo Center on a night not impacted by weather.

That’s a shame.

According to Hockeydb.com, the Flyers’ average attendance this season is down more than 2,700 per game. That’s not an inconsequential figure.

Its something the organization needs to fix, and in an effort to help the Flyers business folks, who obviously have lost touch with this fan base, I’m going to list a slew of grievances I took from fans on Twitter during the game. Consider it market research. It’s a neat concept. They should try it.

But before we get to that, let’s break down some really good things from another 6-1 Flyers victory.

Cohesion

Coach Alain Vigneault said Friday after the Flyers defeated Detroit 6-1 that we weren’t likely to see many six-goal games. The next time on home ice? Yep. Six goals.

Granted, this was a little different, as five of the six goals came in the third period, four in the final 3:28 of the game, meaning this was as close a 6-1 game as you will ever see, but man are the Flyers playing the right way.

Everyone is in sync. They are playing excellent team defense. The penalty kill is practically impenetrable. Goaltending has been superb. And the Flyers are suddenly opportunistic and getting scoring throughout the lineup.

Scott Laughton scored for a third straight game. James van Riemsdyk added a goal from the fourth line. Joel Farabee picked up an empty-netter from the third line. Shayne Gostisbehere  picked up his third goal of the season. Phil Myers had his first career three-point game (all assists).

And the regulars had the biggest goals of the game – Claude Giroux the game-winner and Travis Konecny the insurance dagger.

Russ is planning a story talking about how this group believes in each other and believes in the coach’s message and is as close a locker room as has been seen in Philadelphia in quite some time.

That’s an important piece to hockey that can’t be measured statistically, but goes a very long way to helping a team win.

And win, the Flyers have. They’ve now won five-straight games and have improved to 16-7-5 for 37 points. They’ve built a seven-point lead over non-playoff teams at the moment, but for the first time it’s worth noting how close they are to the top of the standings as opposed to the bottom.

The Flyers are in third place in the Metropolitan Division, but only one point behind the New York Islanders for second place. It’s still a bit of a stretch to catch Washington, who has the best record in the sport and an eight-point cushion on the Flyers, but things are definitely looking up for the Flyers who are a good, fun team to watch on a nightly basis.

Kevin Hayes

This guy wasn’t among the three stars of the game, but he should have been. Hayes, who has been playing well for about eight games now, was the best player on the ice. He was playing a 200-foot game and was noticeable every time he was on the ice, whether he had the puck or not.

He was a demon against the Leafs on the PK. He hounded Toronto, took the puck from them multiple times and played keep away all by his lonesome, milking the power play clock with impunity.

Then, on offense, he did this:

That’s Hayes taking advantage of one of the best players in the sport in Auston Matthews. Seriously, he did an Allen Iverson crossover move on Michael Jordan here. And the end of that play is a pass to Laughton for the first goal of the game. That’s excellent hockey. That’s winning hockey. That’s Vigneault hockey.

Credit to Mike Sielski of the Inquirer for spending some time with Hayes after the media scum to get some real thoughtful and poignant quotes from the Flyers alternate captain.

I overheard the interview while waiting for Myers to come into the locker room, and Mike asked Hayes a great question about the pressure of the contract he signed with the Flyers and if it weighed on him at all. Here is Hayes’ response, pulled from Mike’s column as I wasn’t recording it:

“At the beginning, when you’re making that much money and signed for that long, you don’t want the fans and media to think you’re an overpaid player,” Hayes said. “Stats are stats. I don’t think I was brought in here to get a hundred points, honestly, but when I first got here, I felt like I had to do that. But I don’t think that’s why Chuck and the coaches wanted me to come here. I do some other things that help the team. The bonus is scoring. I’m confident in my offensive game, that I’ll score in this league. I was pretty rattled in my early play, but I think as of late, it’s coming up.”

It’s a great self-assessment by Hayes. He admits he was rattled early in the season and that it affected his game. He admits that the big contract was a weight on his shoulders. But, he also feels like he’s got a handle on that now and that it’s got his game going in the right direction.

All of that is correct.

Now, will he be able to sustain this kind of play consistently over the life of that contract? Time will have to be the judge of that, but for now, Hayes gets it and he’s a very important cog in the Flyers wheel.

Phil Myers

I can admit when I was wrong, and on Tuesday I was wrong. Dead wrong.

I felt the Flyers were going to keep Phil Myers out of the game against the Leafs because he didn’t have a very good game against Montreal on Saturday and Vigneault had announced publicly that there would be a rotation among his fifth, sixth and seventh defensemen as to who would be in and out of the lineup.

I felt like Myers’ struggles in Montreal might have cost him the game against Toronto. Instead, the coaches showed confidence in him, kept him in the lineup, and he was superb.

The three assists are great. Especially the first one as it was his fine play along the wall that set up the game-winning goal by Giroux:

Not to be lost in this discussion about Myers, but that was one hell of a no-look pass by TK.

But Myers makes the play. His instincts are perfect to pinch along the wall and poke the puck back around behind the net and get the Leafs chasing. He made one smart play after another against Toronto.

And while ultimately this was just a cherry on top of the banana split as  this goal made it 6-1, this pass to JVR is pretty damn sick:

I talked one-on-one with Myers after the game about the rotation on the third pair, and how he approaches it. He said he tries not to think about it, but admits it’s just trying not to think, which means he does let it slip into his mind from time to time.

But, he’s also got loftier goals:

“After every game I watch all the videos of my shifts and there’s all these areas where I can always improve. That’s a big part of the game though. Video is there for a reason. You can use it to your advantage. You look at a play and realize sometimes, ‘Oh man, I had so much more time there’ so next time you know better. I’m trying to control what I can control. That’s the mentality. They told me I might miss a game here and there but not to get discouraged. That’s the mentality I have to have.

“I try not to compare one game to the next. I try to just build off stuff. If I have a tough night, I have to forget about it and move on. But you also have to learn from it. You have to know what you did differently. The goal is to get to a point where you are consistent every night. I feel like I’ve gotten better there over time. It’s all about a lot of things, even stuff like what you do during the daytime to get ready for a game that night. It all matters. Great players do that every game. I want to be a great player in this league and play for the Flyers for a long time.”

Keep playing like you did Tuesday, and you will be, Phil.

Quick Hitters

  • Carter Hart was awesome in the first period again, stopping all 15 Toronto shots in the one period where the Leafs were a better team than the Flyers. Hart has been on a roll of late. The play by both he and Brian Elliott in goal is a huge reason why they’ve been able to win with more consistency. They are covering up for any mistakes the Flyers might make.
  • Michael Raffl broke his pinkie finger on his right hand near the end of the second period. He will miss about one month. The Flyers will either insert extra forward Chris Stewart into the lineup against Arizona to replace him or they’ll have to make a roster move.
  • If there is a roster move to be made, the leading candidates have all been here already this season. Carsen Twarynski and Misha Vorobyev have played well for the Phantoms and Connor Bunnaman is back from an injury that had him out for a while. So I would expect it to be one of those three. It won’t be either German Rubtsov or Andy Andreoff as both are currently injured.
  • The Flyers are 9-1-4 at home this season. The Sixers are 10-0. That means in 24 home games by the two winter sports teams in town, there’s only been one regulation loss. Pretty remarkable.
  • Up next is the Arizona Coyotes. They’re a dangerous team. They have a really good road record (9-3-3) and they are a deep team with solid goaltending. This one could be a challenge for the Flyers.

I Didn’t Forget the Angry Fans

Here’s what they had to say Flyers… now fix this, because you can’t keep having attendance like last night. You’re turning into the Florida Panthers.

 

For more Flyers coverage, check out Snow The Goalie Mondays from 5-6PM on 610 ESPN Philadelphia and subscribe to Snow The Goalie: A Flyers Podcast, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, GooglePlay, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, and wherever else you get your podcasts. Also be sure to tune into The Press Row Show as Anthony and Russ live stream during pregame and the first and second intermission breaks of every Flyers home game live from press row of the Wells Fargo Center via the Crossing Broad Facebook page, YouTube Live, and Twitter.

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32 Comments

  • Moose DuPont December 4, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Phuck the Phlyers! Greedy ass owners!

    Reply
  • Josh from Pottstown December 4, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    I wuv the flyas. They are fun to watch

    Reply
    • josh from pottstown December 4, 2019 at 12:25 pm

      ooohhhh actuwally I like the Sharks…. oooohhh its trivia Wednesday. Lemme call mikey miss and get forced into agreeing with anything he says

      Reply
  • Shart Shartveit December 4, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    It is just not worth the money for a Flyers game. I go to more games in Reading and Lehigh Valley. The Flyers ticket prices are too high and the game is boring, The crowd is exceptionally quiet at Flyers games. I usually get Flyers tickets for Christmas. That is usually the only regular season I go to. I go to 2 or 3 preseason games. The preseason games are a lot more fun. I don’t even really follow the NBA, but Sixers games are a 1000 times more fun than a Flyers game. People are there to have fun. Everybody at a Flyers game looks bored out of their mind. Road games in New Jersey are more fun than Flyers home games.

    Reply
  • Rich December 4, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Costs too much to bring a family. Especially on a weekend night when there is no school next day. Even secondary market is too high. Was also looking at 12/23 game and price were almost $100 person for last row in 2nd level. Added parking and concession on top of that and you are looking at a $600 night. Just not worth it.

    Reply
  • Flyers Ticket Rep Insider December 4, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    The bosses in the sales meeting don’t really care about the attendance. The fact is the budget was already hit in the summer after raising all the prices and pricing everyone out. Valerie the new lady in charge congratulated the sales team when we hit budget but we renewed under 74% with some reps below 70% and the sales reps made zero money on commission. The smoke screen that people are not seeing is they are comping thousands of tickets a game. Reps are given tickets every game to get prospects down to just show up. The whole sales team is already focused on next season. If you think the attendance is bad now if the team loses a few games in a row we will not be able to get people down even with comps.

    Reply
    • Serious Question December 4, 2019 at 2:55 pm

      How do you get your hands on a comp?

      Reply
      • Flyers ticket rep insider December 4, 2019 at 6:03 pm

        call in 215-218 Puck and say your interested in a prorated plan and say you will think about it. they will invite you down for comps.

        Reply
  • “Russ is planning a story” December 4, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    Gee. Can’t wait. What time does Russ get done his day job so we can look for this fluff piece from Philadelphia’s #1 fanboy? Will just subscribers be able to read this or is it for everyone?

    Reply
  • Flyers Ticket Rep Insider December 4, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    On Saturday before the Ottawa game we are hosting a season ticketholder focus group to hear frustrations. The new guy in charge of the season ticketholders came up with the idea because he did it with the 76ers when they sucked. Problem is the 76ers lowered prices when they sucked when we raised prices double when we suck. He actually thinks we are going to win over people by talking about the success of the team and the secondary market will get better with time. We will talk about how historically ticket are harder to sell in the first half of the season then the second half. All they are trying to accomplish is to lower as much backlash as possible and point to the fact they LISTEN and CARE about the fanbase… Unfortunately ive witnessed many meetings so far this year where upper management completely bashes the so called die hard fans and thinks they live in the past.

    Reply
    • Anthony SanFilippo December 4, 2019 at 2:16 pm

      On Twitter? DM me. Anonymity guaranteed.

      Reply
  • Fr. mcveigh December 4, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    The Spectrum was no frills and had every seat filled, fans rowdy and loud. As a kid I had to hold on to the back of my dad’s shirt as we walked through the concourse because it was so packed with people. The outrageous prices now pay for the “in game experience”. I go to see a hockey game, not to charge my phone and mingle with millennials on a sofa by a fireplace. Puke

    Reply
  • JG December 4, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    Don’t fall for it. These short winning streaks are always met with long losing streaks and then just under .500 play. It’s exhausting and oh so predictable. Total waste of time to watch this team this year.

    Reply
    • toobis December 4, 2019 at 2:42 pm

      You much be real fun at parties

      Reply
      • mike seaver December 4, 2019 at 2:57 pm

        You must be the guy at parties quoting all of the same lines everyone has heard 1000 times.

        Reply
    • The Dude December 4, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      “short winning streaks” they are literally top 5 in the NHL right now. Only teams with better records are the caps, islanders, bruins and blues. That’s it. Be a negadelphian if you want but we’re not letting you back on the bus if you get off.

      Reply
  • Lil' Cuz December 4, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    I’ll start showing up when they start playing a real sport. Hockey’s only watch by unemployed dock workers and filthy Canadians.

    Reply
  • The Past Repeates Itself December 4, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Do you know you posted basically the same article in December last year? It’s December! Many people don’t go to hockey in December. Last year, you said “If this continues they will have the lowest attendance in franchise history”. As you posted above, that turned out to not be true because low and behold attendance jumped after January… Yet, you still came back this year with the same argument… TV ratings are up, people are noticing the team, and in January people will again look to buy tickets….

    Reply
    • I wish angelo would go to more games.. December 4, 2019 at 3:45 pm

      so that they could egg his car again

      Reply
    • Flyers ticket rep insider December 4, 2019 at 6:12 pm

      You sound like you sit on the suite-level

      Reply
  • The dude December 4, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    Games are too expensive. That’s really all it’s about. This time last year I had been to 2 games. This year I’ve been to zero. And I’m stoked on the team. Just cant justify 300+ bucks for a night out with the wife and kids for nosebleeds, so I’ll keep watching on TV.

    Reply
  • Bob December 4, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    .

    Reply
  • Town December 4, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Flye

    Reply
  • Gene Hart December 4, 2019 at 5:23 pm

    Prices for tix have become abhorrent. Family of 4 in lower bowl is almost $750-$1000 for 1 game.
    The team had taken on the lifeless personality of Hakstol during his tenure and turned a portion of the fan base (myself included) totally off.
    When the team was lifeless, the solution to distract you from a horrid product was god dammed Gritty….who is on social media overkill.
    For many years they ignored the direction of the league toward speed and skill. Alternatively the core fan base was built of goonery, fighting, and hard hitting.
    Holmgren is still involved.
    Team wins as a team and does not have any superstars, which are easier to sell.
    Sixers are good and Eagles have become an obsession.
    Did I mention the prices?
    Ownership is a faceless corporate behemoth….and the leader of that is Dave Scott who is a cable tv exec with zero connection to the fans like Ed Snider had.
    Players never seem to be in the public/media eye.

    Reply
  • Rich December 4, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    One other thing. The regular season is MEANINGLESS. Consider that the average NHL team doesn’t show up about 20 times a year during the endless Exhibition, oops I meant regular season. For the Flyers, it’s more like 25 games they don’t show up . (That annual 10 game losing streak is coming). So for roughly half the games in the season, one or both teams don’t show up. Who will pay these ridiculous prices when the games are often boring and always MEANINGLESS. What does it say when Gritty is your biggest attraction?

    Reply
  • Booooooooooo December 5, 2019 at 4:12 am

    “And while some would argue there is a sense of entitlement with some of those fans – and I don’t disagree”

    You’re such a stooge for that organ-eye-zation. What kind of prick agrees with Comcast that it’s ok to hike the prices the way they did while cutting out the benefits? You’re the worst kind of hack. Dave Spadero-esque

    Reply
  • Unhinged December 5, 2019 at 5:30 am

    People don’t go because the liberals disrespected Kate Smith?

    The failed Kaepernick argument again.

    Bless America and stop pretending to be offended – that is the liberal playbook.

    Reply
    • The Dude December 5, 2019 at 9:39 am

      Truly, my wife’s uncle is a MAGA chud and lifelong flyers fan who now refuses to even watch on TV over the Kate Smith bullshit. If you press him on it he has a hard time explaining exactly why it affects him (or anyone else for that matter…) but that’s the MO of the fox news zombie, feels over reals… and there’s enough of these soft-brained types out there to get Trump elected so it’s not unreasonable to think it’s affecting attendance.

      Reply
  • COMCAST PAY ATTENTION December 5, 2019 at 8:57 am

    I’ve had season tickets for over 30 years and I choose not to go anymore. The arena is entirely too loud, not a fun experience. For this exact game my seats didn’t sell on StubHub and I decided it was better to stay home and lose the tickets vs going to sit in that arena. I’m still in my 40’s, I love the excitement of pro sports, but that stadium has become a joke. I used to attend 30 games a year, and I don’t anticipate going to one game this year. I loyally sat through some really bad seasons over the past several years, but if this is what i was waiting for it was a mistake.

    Reply
    • OK Boomer December 5, 2019 at 2:41 pm

      Or you could just lower your asking price on stubhub… you may not make your money back but it’s better to make 50 bucks back, (or 40, or 30) on a 60 dollar ticket than nothing.

      Reply
  • Ed Snider's Ghost December 5, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    I plan to haunt the Flyer’s top brass until they hang themselves. Kowtowing to so-called “activists” by pulling down the Kate Smith statue was only damaging to some intangible symbolism….but the new leadership fails to realize that a lot of their base holds that kind of symbolism and “tradition” shit near and dear to their hearts. The prices are what is going to kill them. Oh…and fuck Gritty.

    Reply
  • Flyers ticket rep insider December 5, 2019 at 9:50 pm

    We gave out over 3k comps for the Arizona game and about 1k so far for a 1pm Saturday Ottawa game. No one is buying and our management team has zero answers. They blame us but literally have us running in circles

    Reply
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