Buffalo cocaptain Daniel Briere came out for the third period, noticed that more than half the Wachovia Center had already emptied, and realized all the chasing the Flyers did trying to catch up to the speedier Sabres during the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series was over.
Three years ago when the Flyers packed up their sticks and skates after being eliminated by Ottawa, their goaltender at the time was left to shake his head and lament.
“I don’t know why they hate me,” Roman Cechmanek said of the fans who littered him with boos after giving up one too many easy goals.
So it was strange last night in the City of Brotherly Disdain to hear a frustrated crowd stand up and cheer as Robert Esche left the game in the second period, the scoreboard at the time reading an ugly 5-0.
But while fans here might be cranky, they are not stupid and as the blame game, otherwise known as the offseason, begins for the Flyers, the one guy who gets a pass is Esche.
However good his intentions, and however bad his team’s luck with injuries, there is plenty of truth in the shorthand. Clarke got them in this position and it is Clarke’s job to get them out of it, salary cap or no salary cap.
No one can talk about the coach or the goaltender, two of Philadelphia’s hardiest perennials when things go bad around the Flyers. Not this time; no way, no how. There is nowhere else to look but at the general manager.
All the Buffalo Sabres wanted was a road victory. They would have settled for a tight contest, a one- or two-goal margin.
They didn’t anticipate total domination.
Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere looked around the Wachovia Center in the second period of Game Six on Tuesday night and had to feel a strong sense of satisfaction. The Philadelphia Flyers’ home, renowned for its notorious fans, felt more like a mausoleum.
“It went from being one of the loudest buildings to being very quiet,” Briere said.