After watching what transpired over the last two games, there’s a strong feeling the Flyers played their final game on South Broad Street this season.
And for those who forked over postseason prices for Stanley Cup Playoff hockey, those fans certainly didn’t receive face value for what they paid.
For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Flyers dropped Games 3 and 4 on home ice, and neither game was even remotely competitive. After the Flyers lost, 5-1, in Game 3, the Penguins dimmed the lights at the Wells Fargo Center and shut off any electricity the crowd was hoping to generate in Game 4 with a 5-0 shutout (see observations).
Simply put, the Flyers looked deflated and dejected knowing they would be forced to play without Sean Couturier, who was a game-time decision but officially ruled out 40 minutes before the opening faceoff.
“They came out hard,” Andrew MacDonald said. “We kind of looked a bit flustered and I don’t know if it was attributed to the lines or what, but it certainly wasn’t a great start for us.”
Whatever rivalry existed between the Flyers and Penguins coming into this season was hardly recognizable in the four games played in Philadelphia (two regular season, two playoff), where the home team was outscored 20-4 (see story).
Just the mere presence of the Penguins in this building is expected to bring out the best in the Flyers. Instead, we saw them at their worst, and nothing irks Flyers fans more than watching Sidney Crosby walk out of the City of Brotherly Love with six points and two victories in a pair of playoff games.
“It’s disappointing,” Dave Hakstol said. “You take that upon yourself. Bluntly, we’re not happy about it. It wasn’t good enough.”
The Flyers may have fed off the home crowd for one period on Sunday afternoon, but even as they barraged the Penguins with constant pressure, they still found themselves down 1-0 after the opening 20 minutes. After a slew of penalties in the second period, the Flyers were never the same.
Disapproval poured down Wednesday when the Flyers flopped on their power play, which finished 0 for 10 in the two games on home ice, and the crowd of 19,644 booed unmercifully as the horn sounded after each period.
With the Wells Fargo Center half empty midway through the third period, the postseason frenzy felt more like a preseason yawner.
“Fire Hakstol” chants could be heard from the upper deck — the first time that phrase echoed throughout the building since the 10-game winless streak in November.
Prior to this week, the lasting memory of a playoff series against Pittsburgh was Claude Giroux decking Crosby on the opening shift of Game 6 in 2012 and then proceeding to score the first goal as the Flyers eliminated their cross-state rival.
For whatever reason, the Flyers never evolved into a dominant team on home ice this season. The Flyers' 22 wins were the fewest of the 16 teams to reach the postseason and even three non-playoff teams finished with better records at home.
At times, the Flyers played too cute or tried to execute too perfectly in their building, but in this series, it was just too ugly.
“Earn Tomorrow” was the Flyers' playoff slogan coming into this series.
After what the Wells Fargo Center witnessed this week, a chance at tomorrow may be too much to bear.