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Allegedly tough Flyers whine about big, bad Sabres

Unfortunately, the “Perry Street Bullies” doesn’t have as much of ring to it. But looking at this series, with the historically rough-and-tumble Flyers and the supposedly-soft Sabres, it’s been a battle.

It’s almost impossible to think that this would’ve gotten to this point, but in a set knotted up at 2-2, it’s Buffalo setting the physical tone. Although the stats are usually sketchy, the hit totals through four games is Buffalo 117, Philadelphia 105. It’s been a very rough series, and the fact the Sabres got out of the first four games with a split against the defending Eastern Conference champions is a credit to them.

Instead of upping the intensity and fighting back, the Flyers are choosing to work the media.

“They’re getting away with murder out there,” Flyers captain Mike Richards said. “And we got called every time [Dan Carcillo] was on the ice. It’s frustrating, but we’ve got to battle through it. It’s a physical series.”

After getting shutout again to tie the series, the soundbites out of the Flyers are not what you’d expect out of a rough and tumble team. Philadelphia’s doing a good job thinking like they’re getting the short end of the stick, especially in light of the major penalty to Mike Richards for elbowing Patrick Kaleta in the face in Game 4.

“I saw him take a couple of strides towards me,” he said. “I had to protect myself.”

He’s got a point. I mean, I’m pretty sure Marty McSorley said “I was trying to kill a bug on the side of his helmet” after he clubbed Donald Brashear upside the head way back when. What else is he supposed to do? Take a hit? This is hockey. There is no physical contact in this sport.

I don’t know if that was truly worth a major penalty, especially based on some of the other penalties handed out on similiar plays in other games. If the NHL was going to be consistent about plays like that, I’m fine with it being a major. An intentional elbow to the face should be a major. But the inconsistency is the problem with it. Read the rest of this entry

Brotherly Shove: A Sabres fan visits Philadelphia

I wish I could’ve gotten to this earlier, but for posterity, better late than never.

This past weekend, I headed to Philadelphia for Game 2 against the Flyers. I caught a flight out of Nashville and a few buddies from Buffalo made the drive out Saturday morning. (For the record, my total traveling to Sabres games this season has broken 8,000 miles. Where’s my 7th Man award?) After biding time at a local bar until my friends arrived, we headed towards the arena.

So, we walk over, I drop my stuff in their car, and I get one of the guys to take a picture of me in front of the arena, which I try to do at each road game. The rain kinda limited the tailgating efforts, so I figured the hostility would be limited until we got inside. As we took the picture, a Flyers fan drinking in his car with his buddies about 40 feet away rolls down the window and yells “I hope your fucking camera gets ruined, you fucking faggot!”

Very classy. Despite that, overall, I was expecting it to be even worse.

For the most part, the people around us were cool. I had some good conversations with the inebriated gentleman next to me, who seemed only hostile towards Jeff Carter. But there were a good amount of assholes to be found. Read the rest of this entry

Mutual Disrespect: Why Carolina fans hate Buffalo

We’ve all heard stories of that series in 2006. We’ve read online about the hatred since then. But, for me, my first true look at the Hurricanes/Sabres “rivalry” came yesterday in my first visit to RBC Center.

From what you read about online, you’d expect to have to run the gauntlet wearing Sabres gear in that building. After attending Game 4 against Boston last year, I’m pretty sure I can handle anything, but mentally I was preparing for dealing with a lot of smack-talking.

Especially in light of News & Observer columnist Luke DeCock’s commentary on game day, pleading for ‘Canes fans to defend their arena:

This is the Hurricanes’ last chance to make the playoffs. A loss today and they’re finished. Their only hope is to pick up two points on the Sabres today, win their final three games and hope for a little help elsewhere…

…There’s too much on the line for the Hurricanes today for their fans to be bullied out of their own building. It’s time for the Hurricanes to defend their home turf, on and off the ice. Because otherwise, the Buffalo fans win.

I’ve visited many arenas around the league to catch the Sabres on the road, Raleigh being the 9th of 29 cities sporting an NHL team outside of the 716 area code. The tailgating was as I expected, not what you’d see in Orchard Park on a Sunday, but much more than you’d see in other NHL cities. I’m sure if Buffalo had that kind of weather, and that kind of space, it’d be similar. Among with the ‘Canes fans who were obviously regulars based on their set-ups, there was plenty of Sabres fans out in the parking lot having a few pregame beers… hostility nowhere to be found.

For the most part, that was absent on Sunday. Sure, the occasional comment would come from a ‘Canes fan. (Walking in, some tool in a personalized jersey (forget the name) was poking fun at my Enroth jersey… I would’ve loved to run into him again after the game) Other than that, fans in Carolina gear kept to themselves. Most of the crowd noise was reactionary, not appreciating the “Let’s go Buffalo!” chants raining down from the upper deck.

It seemed to me that both sides were being extremely civil for most of the game, unwilling to put themselves out there for risk of the harassment they’d take later on for it. The distaste went towards their own team. At least until Marc-Andre Gragnani’s point shot found its way into the net. Read the rest of this entry

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