PHILADELPHIA — An interesting off-the-ice aspect to these outdoor games is the amount of media interest that they draw. For those who occupy seats in the press box, that doesn't change a whole lot about how they cover a game.
For photographers? Yeah, it's quite a bit different. There are only so many holes, and when you're on the road they become even more limited. Add the national media interest and NHL Images crew into the equation, and very, very few photographers shoot from rink level.
The rest of us are generally free to roam the stands, with the most complete viewing angles coming from the upper deck -- which is where I shot this game.
Doing so at Lincoln Financial Field was a bit different than at Heinz Field two years back. At Heinz Field, there is room to walk around, to find places to shoot, to traverse the stands without having to exit into the concourse. At 'The Linc,' you really have to walk back into the crowded, narrow concourse areas to move from section to section.
Because of that, I shot most of the game from a spot near Section 201, close to the 50 yard line, or center ice in this case. Pre-game skate was a good warmup for shooting from such a wildly different position in an ... ice rink. But, it never produces anything you really want to use unless it's injury or scratch related.
After warmups, though ... it happened.
I feel like it should be spelled It, for obvious reasons, but Gritty, yes Gritty, is what you see up top leading off the game's best photos. The Flyers' rookie mascot was waiting atop The Linc to be announced and then swung from the light fixtures until he reached ice level.
The first image is of Gritty swinging down in front of his hometown fans -- one where you can see the fans in the background. The second is an exposure that shows off his neon accessories a bit more. The rest of the game's best photos follow close behind.
[caption id="attachment_779508" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
No, not that photo you see above. That would be too much Gritty. And, no, not this one which would be too, TOO much Gritty. I kept it wide to spare the children. Cover up already:
[caption id="attachment_779510" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
Those are fun interpretations of grit, and Gritty is the embodiment of that. He's one of the best things to come from a marketing department since the Geico caveman. But, there was another interpretation of grit on display which didn't bode so well for potential Norris Trophy candidate Kris Letang.
Wayne Simmonds hit Brian Dumoulin, hard and with contact to the head, and knocked him out of the game, literally, with a concussion.
The Penguins retaliated in a big way. Jared McCann went after Simmonds, Nick Bjugstad and Letang went after James van Riemsdyk and Shane Gostisbehere "RKO'd" Letang before he got to No. 25.
An RKO is a finishing move from the WWE's Randy Orton, and it's the move the Flyers' bench laughed about "Ghosty" using to take down Letang, as I'd learn after the game.
One of the advantages to shooting from closer to the lights with the camera than the action is that you shoot wider and it's hard to miss much of anything. Well, shooting wider as the scene unfolded, I was able to see what exactly happened to Letang to knock him out of the game as well.
This is similar to the image I shared during the game, but mainly to show how McCann was going after Simmonds:
[caption id="attachment_779514" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
At times, both of those officials had to focus on McCann as he continued to try and knife between them to get to the much larger Simmonds -- who also possesses a much larger fight card.
What I didn't get a chance to see while transferring photos in the rain, though, was what happened to Letang in the background. So, I searched online after the game, and I couldn't find a clip of Gostisbehere intercepting Letang. That's when I GIF'd together the sequence of photos and came up with this -- as close to a video of the incident as I could get: