It was Rivalry Night. That’s how it was billed on NBCSN before the puck dropped, but it didn’t require any advanced marketing. The Flyers and Capitals handled all the necessary promotion once the game began.
“When you play home and home, you build up a bit of bad blood, I guess,” Luke Schenn said. “It started out the same way [Wednesday]. It was a wild first period.”
Early in the first period, with the Flyers up two goals in what would become a 6-4 win at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay), Schenn checked Capitals center Ryan Stoa into the boards. It was a good hit and a hard hit and, by most accounts, a clean hit. Didn’t matter. Clean or no, it started a lengthy line brawl between the two teams.
Schenn and Tom Wilson went at it. Vincent Lecavalier and John Erskine went at it. Wayne Simmonds and Connor Carrick went at it. It seemed like everyone went at it.
While Simmonds was scrapping with Carrick, he somehow managed to grab Erskine from behind with a free arm, which allowed Lecavalier to give Erskine a good shot over the top. There were so many bodies throwing so many punches that it felt for a time like a cartoon fight -- indeterminate legs and arms flailing about from an animated dust cloud.
When the fracas finished and the limbs were untangled, the two teams were hit with a combined 56 penalty minutes. Erskine and Lecavalier all received game misconducts and watched the remainder of the evening’s proceedings from their respective locker rooms. Listening to all the infractions get announced over the PA system sounded a bit like the hockey version of an old movie gag.
“I made a hit and got asked to fight and stuff like that,” Schenn said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes. Obviously, you don’t want to see guys like Vinny get kicked out of the game. That’s a bad trade-off for us. But sometimes guys are standing up for each other and that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
While players were being pulled off each other, fans at the Wells Fargo Center chanted “Holt-by.” You no doubt remember why: Back on Nov. 1, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby played the unfortunate part of Ray Emery’s punching bag during another big brawl between the two teams.
In a coincidental twist noted by calendar aficionados and hockey fight historians, Wednesday marked the 10-year anniversary to the day of the still-infamous brawl between the Flyers and the Ottawa Senators. The Flyers and Senators combined for an astounding 419 penalty minutes that evening. A decade later, it remains a dubious NHL record.
“It was exciting for hockey and for our fans,'' Flyers goaltender Robert Esche said at the time. The story didn’t mention it, but you imagine Esche giving that quote while icing his face and fists.