It was almost like a playoff atmosphere last night at the Wells Fargo Center when the Philadelphia Flyers took the ice for the first time in that arena this season. OK, maybe not a playoff atmosphere, but it certainly showed in the crowd how the Flyers were missed in this town. One of the main reasons the Flyers were missed so much is because the Phillies floundered last year, the Eagles were terrible, and the Sixers are one of the most underacheiving teams in this city that we've seen in years. So, that makes for a great time for the Flyers to take over and try to win some fans back with a shortened 48-game season. 15,202 fans at the Wells Fargo Center for a free practice certainly started that season off on the right note. That note was the AT&T Pavilion is still alive and kicking.
Then, we saw the ice. Ready for some practice. Ready for players to see thousands of screaming fans.
Sean Couturier called it "awkward" to practice in front of that many fans. He's right. Nobody does that. Ever. Not even the Toronto Maple Leafs. But Thursday night, we cheered Bryzgalov's impressive performance. In practice. We jeered at Michael Leighton for giving up soft goals. In practice. We laughed at Wayne Simmonds for not being able to score at all. In practice.
Yeah. Hockey's back in Philadelphia.
I almost hate to say that, though. I love the game of hockey and I still followed the KHL every now and then, and watched the World Juniors while the NHL was still in the midst of their lockout. But mostly everyone in America thinks NHL is the only worthwhile hockey game, and it showed last night. While I love watching hockey in general, watching the Flyers brings back some of that old high school fandom. Getting mad at players. Calling every hit against us a cheap shot and every hit against them clean and awesome. Yep. Hockey's back.
Twenty minutes before the practice was even set to begin, most of the lower bowl was full. We had to find a seat in the second level, which was pretty crazy. We were able to score second row seats in section 214, and just had a great time watching practice.
Intense. Michael Barkann also had a great view. After an hour, practice was over. Everyone applauded. And Paul Holmgren said Scott Laughton is probably going to start the season with the Flyers because they've been waiting for him to regress, and he hasn't. He's only gotten better. I'm excited about this. Here were the line pairings tonight, which is entirely possible to be the same on Saturday.
Jump it for the videos. They're cool. I promise. Taken by me, that's why.