PHILADELPHIA – They used to be called the Broad Street Bullies.
Now you may as well refer to them as the Broad Street Buddies.
Hard as it might be to believe, the Flyers headed into Thursday night’s game against the New Jersey Devils having not been involved in a single fight this year.
That’s the latest date without a fight since the Flyers’ inaugural season of 1967-68 when they didn’t engage in their first fight until Nov. 19.
And since that was only the Flyers’ 16th game of that season, technically this is a new “record’’ for passivism.
Dale Weise, who signed here in 2016 to be a “physical’’ player, says the game of hockey is evolving away from the fisticuffs.
As much as the Wells Fargo Center faithful love a good brawl, players know that instigating a fight can leave a team shorthanded at inopportune times in a game.
Plus, the skill level is so high that players don’t seem to be going after the “big hits’’ as much as they once did.
“How many enforcers do teams have now, one, maybe two?’’ Weise said after Thursday morning’s skate at the Wells Fargo Center. “It’s like we’re not in that old-school mentality. . .there’s going to be bodychecking, there’s going to be good hits.
“That’s part of hockey. It doesn’t mean there has to be a fight everytime there’s a good bodycheck. I mean, I think we’re team-tough in here, I don’t think anybody takes advantage of us.’’
Guys like Weise, Radko Gudas and Wayne Simmonds have been good about keeping control of their tempers. Of course, if someone takes a cheap shot at a teammate, they’re going to come to the rescue.
But for the most part, it’s prudent to let the other teams take dumb instigator penalties.
“I think if the situation arose, we’ve got a lot of guys who can handle themselves,’’ Weise said. “I just think that the way hockey is going, you can’t take a stupid penalty – an instigator, or roughing and put the other team on the power play.’’
The best part is that the game moves along quicker when it’s not broken up by three or four brawls. Who wants to be sitting around until 10 p.m.?
“It’s great,’’ Weise said. “We’re getting back to bodychecking again where you can throw a clean check and you don’t have the answer the bell, then sit out for five minutes.
“I think that’s hockey that people enjoy. You see playoff hockey and there’s massive hits everywhere and there’s not fighting. It’s just the way the game is going. It’s the mentality of the young kids coming up – you throw a big hit, it’s part of the game, play on.’’
Van Riemsdyk officially back
James van Riemsdyk was all smiles after the morning skate because he is officially returning to action on Thursday night against the Devils.
Van Riemsdyk suffered a foot injury in the second game of the season, so for him, it’s almost like starting over.
“It’s exciting stuff,’’ JVR said. “It’s been a few weeks now. It’s kind of like the excitement you have for the start of any season.
“It’s just getting back into the swing of things. It’s your game-day routine, finding that again and seeing what works.’’
Weise missed a practice due to an injury suffered by his son, Hunter, 5, when he was playing a Ninja Warrior game.
Hunter fell and broke the orbital bone around his eye, requiring surgery.
Thankfully, the surgery went well and a full recovery is expected. But things got a bit tense there for a while.
“He’s doing good, he had a pretty bad accident,’’ Weise said. “He had surgery yesterday and he was up this morning, watching TV. It’s amazing how resilient kids are.
“It’s been a tough week and a half without any time to see your kid. It’s not a good feeling. So I’m glad everything is OK.’’
Both Nico Hischier and Brian Boyle of the Devils were ruled out of Thursday night’s game. Hischier suffered an upper-body injury against Pittsburgh the other day and is listed as day-to-day. . .The Flyers have scored 45 goals in their nine wins (5.0 average) and only 13 in their nine losses (1.44).
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