MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE the World Series is in town, but so far there hasn't been the familiar outcry about the "typical" Philadelphia fans that usually erupts after one of those all too-"typical" Philadelphia sports scenes that become legend and get listed right under "throw snowballs at Santa Claus. "
In this case it was a flaming smoke bomb thrown onto the ice after a contested goal in overtime in Saturday's 3-2 Flyers win over New Jersey in the Wachovia Center. But can the noise be far behind?
It was an outrageous and dangerous act that covered the ice surface with smoke, chased the Devils' coaching staff from the bench and left the city with another fan-based black eye.
"We were not happy," Comcast-Spectacor president Peter Luukko said yesterday. "That was as good a hockey game as can be played and it didn't need that. After all the talk last year about how tough our fans are to play in front of, we went to Washington in the playoffs and someone throws a beer bottle that hits Jeff Carter and in Montreal someone threw a beer into the penalty box that hit Mike Richards and nothing like that happened here. We were angry last night. "
So angry, in fact, that the Flyers are conducting an investigation; there is video from security cameras showing two suspects running from the building.
The description being released is of two males about 6 feet tall. One is described as an African-American wearing a white Flyers jersey and a white male also wearing a Flyers jersey, with his face painted.
"We are working diligently to catch the culprit and hope to prosecute the person," Luukko said. "If we find that the person is a season ticketholder, we will permanently cancel their tickets. "
Don't change the coach
Lots of stuff was said about the possibility of changes being made if the Flyers didn't end their winless streak.
Some questioned whether the poor start should cost John Stevens his job. The wins Friday in New Jersey and at home Saturday did a lot to end that talk.
It could have gone the other way. The Flyers gave up goals in the first and last minutes of the first period in Friday night's win, and there are coaches who would have stormed into the locker room spitting fire.
But Stevens saw the first goal as a fluke and the last as a faceoff that wasn't picked. His team was starting to play competitive hockey. When he went into the locker room, he pumped them up instead.
"The only message I had between the first and second periods was don't change a thing," he said.
That is good coaching.
Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford is absolutely right that head shots need to be eliminated from the game, and that until the NHL outlaws contact to the head it should not say it is "cracking down. "
Rutherford was angry about the hit Doug Weight put on Brandon Sutter on Long Island on Saturday that knocked the 19-year-old Sutter, son of Devils coach Brent Sutter, unconscious. Weight was not penalized and Rutherford went on the offensive in an interview with The Sports Network's Bob McKenzie.
"The league should at least stop saying it's concerned with hits to the head because it's not," Rutherford said. "I've had four players, Erik Cole, Trevor Letowski, Matt Cullen and now Brandon Sutter get badly injured on hits to the head and only one of the guys who hit them was suspended.
"I realize there are only two ways you can go on this. Either you have a penalty for head-checking, like they do in the Ontario Hockey League, or you don't, and we don't in the NHL, and I understand that and that's fine, I guess, but don't tell anyone you care about protecting the players' heads because it's not happening. "
Have a bite?
The AHL should be looking into a suspension for Albany River Rats captain Tim Conboy, who was assessed a fighting major, instigation and unsportsmanlike minors, a game misconduct for instigating and a game misconduct for "persisting in a fight," following a high-sticking incident and fight with Steve Downie during the Phantoms' 3-0 win Saturday afternoon.
"I've never heard of [persisting] in a fight before," said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren. "The report I got was that [Conboy] bit Downie on the hand. He had blood and teeth marks on his hand. "
Local boy doing good
South Jersey's Bobby Sanguinetti scored a third-period game-winner against the Phantoms in the Hartford Wolf Pack's 2-1 win in Hartford on Friday.