Flyers GM on home woes: “Maybe we should have bench-clearing brawls again”

14 Comments

Philadelphia has long been regarded as a tough place to play for visiting teams — but this year, it hasn’t been very kind to the home team.

The Flyers have just 11 wins in 22 games at the Wells Fargo Center, tied for the second-fewest in the Eastern Conference and, as CSN Philadelphia’s Tim Panaccio notes, they’re on pace to win around 20-21 games at home.

That would be the fewest since 2006-07, when the Flyers won 10 and failed to make the playoffs.

Panaccio also notes that on several occasions, “the fans get into the opposition’s face more than the Flyers.”

It’s a statement Jaromir Jagr disagreed with.

“You have to understand we play different hockey than the Flyers played 10 years ago,” Jagr said. “Ten years ago, hockey was more physical than the way we play right now. I don’t think we have the players to play that physical style. I think we are more skilled.”

GM Paul Holmgren — well aware of Philadelphia’s Broad Street Bullying past — suggested there might be something to Panaccio’s suggestion.

“The game has changed. Maybe we should have bench-clearing brawls again. Maybe that would do it,” Holmgren said. “I could remember when we go maybe the whole year and only lose four games in years past. It’s a different league now, a different game.

“At the same time, we got to find a way to get more wins in our own building.”

A big reason for Philly’s home struggles is its anemic penalty kill. The Flyers rank 25th in the league at home — killing penalties at a 78 percent clip — which os inexplicable considering they rank 11th on the road at 85.3 percent. Losing Chris Pronger (who played nearly five shorthanded minutes a game) hurts, but the team still has a slew of dedicated PK specialists at its disposal including rookie Sean Couturier, who’s been lauded for his shorthanded work this season.

One of those PK specialists, Maxim Talbot, knows how the Flyers can bump their slump at home.

“For us, it’s a matter of working hard and finishing checks,” Talbot said. “And playing Flyers hockey – which is being tough.”