There’s something special about going to a game as an away fan. You’ll get dirty looks. You’ll get heckled. You’re outnumbered. In short, it’s incredible.
Before this game, I had only gone to an away Flyers game once before. Back in the magical 2009-10 season, the Flyers met the Devils in the first round of the playoffs, so a friend and I made the drive up to Newark. The atmosphere was electric. Most of the fans I talked to were great, but there were, as expected, a few assholes sprinkled in.
Before the game even started, a Devils fan in the section next to mine was arguing with a Flyers fan. I didn’t notice if any punches were thrown, but there was a large, expletive-filled argument, and multiple beers were dumped on the Flyers fan. From my vantage point, the Devils fan was the instigator. So, naturally, the Flyers fan – the away team fan – got kicked out.
After that went down, we were chatting with the season ticket holders behind us. They were great guys – much different than the guy a section over. They informed me that the guy was known for fighting with opposing fans, and was usually very successful in getting them kicked out.
The atmosphere at the Capitals game this weekend was very different. The worst I heard was “Watch yourself, buddy boy”. It was a little old woman who said it. I couldn’t help but laugh. Other than that, it was very docile. Nobody else heckled me or anyone else around me.
The Flyers fans also really brought it. There weren’t many of us, but we made our presence felt (and heard). I didn’t hear many Capitals chants, but there were plenty of “Let’s go Flyers!” chants heard throughout the day. They were, of course, followed by the Caps rebuttal of “Flyers suck!” , but it was all in good fun.
The game itself wasn’t too crazy. The first period ended with both teams tied at 0. During the second, the Flyers took the lead on a goal by Michael Raffl. Valtteri Filppula controlled the puck in Capitals’ territory and fed a beautiful pass to Raffl, who beat Braden Holtby on the short side to take the lead. That lead didn’t last long, however, as Alexander Ovechkin was able to tie it up with 16 seconds remaining in the period. After moving the puck around on the powerplay, John Carlson was able to find Ovechkin in his office. As you’d expect, it was a rocket from Ovechkin. Brian Elliot didn’t have much of a chance.
The third period was similar to the first. Not much happened, but the chances were there for both teams. The period came and went with no scores attached, setting us up for a thrilling overtime finish. After a miss along the boards by Carlson, Travis Konecny was able to take the puck into the Capitals’ zone and step around Evgeny Kuznetsov, firing the puck off T.J. Oshie and past Holtby for the win. The Flyers fans erupted in applause, while the Capitals fans made a quick exit.
Despite the game being much tamer than I expected, it was still a great time. The Capitals fans were, for the most part, very welcoming. The arena was beautiful, and our boys pulled out the W. Sunday, January 21st gave Philly a Flyers win, and saw the Eagles give the city its biggest win since the Flyers’ magical run to a Stanley Cup appearance in 2009-10 (here’s to hoping this one turns out better than that one). Now, the only thing we need is one more Philly win, less than two weeks from now, in Minnesota, against the big, bad New England Patriots, for the Super Bowl. This time, it’s for the Birds.