Of the 16 NHL teams to make the Stanley Cup playoffs, take a guess which one finished the regular season with the fewest home wins.
That would be your Philadelphia Flyers.
They managed to secure just 22 victories at the Wells Fargo Center, one fewer than the Los Angeles Kings.
It goes without saying that’s a long way from the days of the Broad Street Bullies.
Those old enough to remember that era might recall the 1975-76 campaign when the Flyers went 36-2-2 (there were ties in those days) at the old Spectrum, and then went 6-3 in the playoffs, losing to Montreal in the Stanley Cup finals.
So what’s the problem now? Is the home crowd too corporate, too buttoned down to make a fuss and keep the vibe positive? And is the cheering all that important?
Crowd noise can work two ways.
Cheering can lift a team. But if that team isn’t playing well, the negativity from the sound of boos can be counterproductive.
“We’re a pretty young team,’’ noted captain Claude Giroux after Saturday’s optional practice at the Skate Zone. “Sometimes the crowd, when it isn’t going our way, it can get on us a little bit. When you’re a young team, sometimes it’s a little tough.
“We have to put that behind us. Early in the first period. We need to have a first period like we did in Game 3 (a 5-1 loss in Philadelphia) and go from there.’’
The Flyers have lost their first two home games to the Penguins in this series by a combined score of 10-1. They also lost both games against Pittsburgh here during the regular season.
That has to change Sunday or the Flyers’ season will be over.
The Flyers are 2-1 in this series at Pittsburgh. Maybe Philadelphia’s young players are a little more relaxed out there, keeping the game simple and all that good stuff.
“We go on the road and we just play our game,’’ Giroux said. “We play hard. We have to bring that game home tomorrow.’’
Sean Couturier wants the Flyers to not complicate things at home.
“Keep it simple,’’ Couturier said. “Play our game. Don’t get worried about putting on a show or worry about what the fans think or react.
“We have to just do what we did last game (a Game 5 4-2 win in Pittsburgh). Stick together, stay disciplined. We killed off those (five) penalties but we put ourselves in trouble. We have to be a bit more disciplined.’’
Like Giroux, Couturier believes a young team can be adversely affected by a moody home crowd.
“We’ve got a young team,’’ he said. “Maybe we get too worried with outside distractions. Maybe pressure to put on a show at home or playing exceptional or making too much at times.
“I think we have to keep things tight and give ourselves a chance to win.’’
Coach Dave Hakstol said the Flyers played better at home down the stretch and that’s cause for optimism.
“We don’t feel like we played very well in Games 3 and 4,’’ he said. “That’s going to take a lot of the spotlight but I think we’ll draw on a lot of the good games we played here at home against good teams down the stretch: Winnipeg, Boston, Carolina. Our team played very well.’’
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