Philly Fans Boo Flyers "Lack of Effort"

April 15, 2011 Updated Apr 15, 2011 at 7:09 PM EDT

By WKBW News

April 15, 2011 Updated Apr 15, 2011 at 7:09 PM EDT

Philadelphia, PA (Courtesy Sam Donnellon-Philly Daily News)

Fans booed the Flyers last night. In Game 1 of their defense of their Eastern Conference championship, despite a renewed commitment to forechecking and puck support and responsibility, the Flyers were booed, sometimes lustily, especially toward the end of a 1-0 Game 1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

Why? The Flyers began their Stanley Cup quest last night with a renewed sense of purpose. They dived to block pucks, dived to keep them alive, hit people with ferocity and discipline, landing in the penalty box only twice over 60 minutes of play. Yeah, they wasted a two-man advantage for 38 seconds. Yeah, they fired 35 shots at Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller, had an endless amount of whacks at loose pucks rolling around in Miller's crease without squaring one up, as Stairs would say.

But they were this close to the team you fell in love with last spring, the team that spent much of this season playing with the spirit displayed last night. Didn't last year's run buy them any of that feel-good Stairs received after his dramatic home run in the 2008 postseason?

"I think they were just frustrated," Flyers defenseman Sean O'Donnell said in the losing locker room afterward. "A lot of people had questions how we're going to respond after our February and March . . . "

At practice Wednesday, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette spoke about the clarity of preparing for one opponent rather than a league. In the early going, strategies for both teams emerged. Braydon Coburn's puckhandling and skating ability were troublesome for the Sabres, as he cut through the neutral zone several times that period to create offense. The Flyers dominated periods of the first period, had the better of play in the second, and really won the territorial battle. Sergei Bobrovsky was fine. James van Riemsdyk was a machine. Benched several times late in the season for inattentive play, Ville Leino showed up big-time, forechecking effectively, creating turbulence in the Sabres zone, even giving and receiving a big hit.

So why boo?

"The fans have waited for a winner for a long time here," O'Donnell said. "And last year teased them a little bit."

So did the months before February and March, when the Flyers looked like hockey's most complete team. But here's the thing: They looked every bit like that team last night, with two notable exceptions. They didn't have Chris Pronger. And they didn't pitch enough tents in front of Miller's crease.

No one knows when or whether the first exception is removed. Pronger's right hand is still too weak to put anything on a puck, which is why Danny Syvret was out there. Early in the third period of a scoreless game, Syvret lost Patrick Kaleta for only a moment, and it cost the Flyers this game.

"I took a swing at his stick, missed it, and it went in from there," Syvret said.

But Syvret was right when he said, "We'll get more chances as the series goes on. We just have to bear down a little more. There were a lot of times when we had chances when the puck was kicking around in the crease, and we just couldn't get it up."

"Even though we didn't win tonight," O'Donnell said, "there was a big difference from the way we played the last 20 games."

For 2 weeks, Danny Briere has said this team was close to busting out of its end-of-season doldrums. And, yeah, they didn't get off a shot on one power play, and their passing with the advantage, while more accurate and structured, was not quick enough to create chaos in the crease.

But the effort was not boo-able, not in a Game 1, not after what they showed you last year and for parts of this one. There was boosted confidence in the dressing room afterward, because they know if they repeat this effort, the result is not likely to repeat itself.

The Flyers played winning hockey last night. They just didn't win.

"We'll be all right," O'Donnell said.

"We've just got to get some of those greasy-type goals," van Riemsdyk said. "We've got to keep doing what we're doing getting pucks to the net. And we've got to do a better job getting those second opportunities." *


Are you on the Flyers payroll? — Harry Hoopes
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Confirm your registration to report abuse 0 like this / 1 don't • Posted 4:58 AM, 04/15/2011
Sam I agree with you. Booing the home team in my book is always crass and boorish, especially with an effort like that. Too bad it's become so ingrained in the sports culture. Only energizes the visiting team. Shows there's rednecks everywhere. — retzlaff

Posted 4:59 AM, 04/15/2011
Well we're waiting.... — Kevinmac

Posted 5:33 AM, 04/15/2011
Ryan Madson's wife is laughing right now... — J H

Posted 5:44 AM, 04/15/2011
Personally, I don't boo the home team. If I am not cheering, that says plenty. But Sam, you and I saw different games. Yes, there was effort there, for the most part. But lets get real. First off, this team took the last month or more off, so it is SHOW TIME. The fans have a right at this point to expect more than "we tried hard", and it is the team's fault, given their "It is hard to get up for regular season games" approach, that fans expect production, NOW. Second, their power play was dismal, once again mired in their over-passing, "get close together so one defender can cover two guys" ineffectiveness that has been a problem for weeks. Third, while they got a lot of shots, they had almost no dangerous ones - the high shot total has the press chirping about Miller but he made no memorable or difficult saves all night; for the most part he squared to the shooter and they shot it right into him, often unscreened. High shot totals might impress the casual fan - or reporter, in some cases! - but when they are routine, unscreened shots, a decent goalie is going to stop them all night long. I said, I don't boo the home team, but those who did last night had some pretty hard-to-argue with reasons. — PhillyShadow

Posted 6:40 AM, 04/15/2011
The booing is acceptable based on the play of this team over the last 5 weeks. Get over yourselves all you high and mighty people who are so sweet and nice that you don't agree with booing. The people who take the high and mighty approach to booing are the ones who wanted the trophy when they were young and their team came in last place. — shawnmac

Posted 7:05 AM, 04/15/2011
'This close' doesn't cut it. We want wins! Something we haven't really seen in the last 2 months. —

Posted 7:23 AM, 04/15/2011
People who boo the home team, especially when they play well (and The Flyers did play well last night) are idiots! — Ernie D

Posted 7:35 AM, 04/15/2011
Sam, you are a complete moron. Fans react to the action on the ice, field, or court. They pay to see a quality product and expect nothing less. Either the Flyers will look at themselves in the mirror and reverse the boos to cheers or they will reserve tee times for next weekend. The PECO powerplay should be renamed the PECO power failure. — brio

Posted 7:39 AM, 04/15/2011
they deserve the boos. if i sucked at my job for 3 months, i would expect negative reactions. their job is to play hockey for 60 minutes. they are payed millions, SO THEY SHOULD DO THEIR JOBS !!!!! given up because their feelings are hurt and pockets too loaded with money is lame. — vomit
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Posted 7:39 AM, 04/15/2011
i'm not a booer, but they deserve the boos. if i sucked at my job for 3 months, i would expect negative reactions. their job is to play hockey for 60 minutes. they are payed millions, SO THEY SHOULD DO THEIR JOBS !!!!! given up because their feelings are hurt and pockets too loaded with money is lame. — vomit
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vomit, you probably do suck at your job! — Ernie D

Posted 7:55 AM, 04/15/2011
I am so damned tired of newspaper columnists giving me rules on how to be a fan in this city.

Sam, when was the last time you actually paid to attend a sporting event? — PattyB23

Posted 7:56 AM, 04/15/2011
Loads of shots, but no traffic. We could really use a Gary Dornhoffer, Tim Kerr or John LeClair right now. — fentonhardy

Posted 7:56 AM, 04/15/2011
What IS it with you delusional journalists? You are NOT one bit smarter than the average fan. Yet you arrogantly think it is your moral responsibility to lecture the fanbase about behavior. This - the caste system in your pea-sized brains - is why you are going bankrupt. Not the internet, not CL, not advertising - it's because you guys obviously think you are better than your readers, when you are not. And by indulging this self-conceit, repeatedly, at the very expense of your jobs, you prove yourselves to be inferior to those you look to lecture. Well done.