Flyers teammates Luke Schenn, Brayden Schenn, Claude Giroux, Michael Del Zotto and Nick Grossmann went out to dinner in the city on Monday night after returning from a 7-4 loss to the New York Islanders.
Frustrated with the way their season has gone and with the hated Penguins conveniently in town the next night, the topic of discussion turned to releasing all of their frustration on Sidney Crosby and company in the form of a few fisticuffs.
“It’s not like we were planning it,” said Luke Schenn, who thinks Giroux was the one who brought up the idea. “We were just joking around and were like, ‘Man, maybe this is just what we need.’ …It wasn’t like we thought, ‘Oh it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins.’ We were just joking around about it but it’s fun it turned out that way.”
Oh yeah, the game turned into Tuesday Night Fights down at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Pennsylvania rivals treated the 19,982 fans in attendance to four good bouts and a combined 93 penalty minutes during a wildly entertaining 3-2 overtime victory. In the fight-filled second period, the Flyers had 38 penalty minutes behind fights from unlikely sources Jakub Voracek – in his final game before his first all-star appearance – Michael Raffl and Pierre-Edouardo Bellemare. Luke Schenn fought Steve Downie and got a good dozen shots in before knocking him to the ice.
Voracek dropped the gloves for just the second time in his NHL career and the first time since going toe-to-toe with the Capitals’ Steve Olesky on March 31, 2013. The league’s leading scorer didn’t approve of Rob Scuderi’s hip check and unleashed a fury of punches. Voracek got two minutes for instigation, five for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.
“I saw (Dave) The Hammer Schultz before the game,” said Voracek, who waved his hands in the air to the crowd before leaving the ice. “I wanted to show him I got something.”
The 59 penalty minutes were the most the Flyers have racked up since recording 99 against the Capitals on Nov. 1, 2013. It was the most PIM they’ve had in a regular season game against the Penguins since the 115 on Feb. 16, 1992.
“Pittsburgh brings that out in all of us,” Flyers’ coach Craig Berube said. “You know there was a lot of emotion in the game and a lot of physical play. Guys were battling for each other and we played a real good hockey game.”
Crosby expected as much from the Flyers.
“You could tell that was part of their game plan, to run around a bit,” he said. “That’s something we’ve definitely seen before.”
Now the Flyers need to figure out how to bring the same emotion, which has been missing all year, against teams not from Pittsburgh.
“We have to bring that emotion game after game, especially down the stretch,” Luke Schenn said. “Everygame is going to be pretty tight checking. I don’t know if you’re going to see that many scraps but I think you’re going to get some tight checking games and the emotion definitely has to be there.”