After Six Failed Attempts, .500 Seems to Be Elusive For Flyers
Six times the Flyers attempted to get their record back to .500 and six times they have failed so far this season.
At 9-11-1, you have to start to wonder why that has been the case. It happened again last night when the Flyers dropped a home game 4-2 to the Maple Leafs, playing flat for the first 50 minutes of the game.
Is it mental? Are they snake-bitten? Or is this all just one big coincidence? Regardless, the Flyers need to earn every point they can get their hands on because this is a shortened season and every point matters just a little bit more if a team wants to make the playoffs.
Scott Hartnell said it before the season that this is going to be a sprint to the finish for 30 teams. And currently, the Flyers are at the bottom of the pack and could potentially wind up on the outside looking in for the playoffs.
"There has been a lot of talk about the .500," said head coach Peter Laviolette. "It’s not like we’re shooting for .500 in the room. But we’ve just got to get back, and it’s got to happen through this stretch of games where the home games favor us and not as many road games. It’s got to get to the point where we put together three out of four, five out of six, six out of seven, and start to get the win column going in the right direction so we can set ourselves up for the last third of the year and a playoff push. We’ve got to get back to it Wednesday night and start climbing back out. It’s like one step forwards and two steps backwards."
The Flyers were flat most of the game. The opening eight minutes were good for the Flyers, but the energy started to slowly fade away until it was completely drained with Phil Kessel's opening goal.
Kessel completely burned the veteran Kimmo Timonen for a puck in the zone and beat a tired Ilya Bryzgalov on a weak, low shot to make it 1-0.
“We need to learn to play 60 minutes a game and that hurt us again tonight," said captain Claude Giroux, who is on a five-game point streak thanks to his two assists. "It’s the same story. We need to play as a team and get four lines rolling and play a good 60.”
It wasn't until the last 10 minutes of the game that the Flyers picked up their sense of urgency.
Down 3-1, the Flyers went on a four-minute power play and capitalized right away to cut the lead in half. They couldn't beat Ben Scrivens during the second power play opportunity, nor could they in the final five minutes of scrambled hockey.
"We talk about it before games," said Hartnell, who scored his first goal of the season in the second. "We talk about it after the first five minutes of the game when we don’t show up to play. Any team in this league is too good to only play 50 minutes or 55 minutes or even half a game. It’s been talked about too many times. It’s got to change fast. We can’t get down 2-0 every game and expect to win especially a team like Toronto. They are playing really well. It’s just frustrating to be a part of it."
One of the few guys who has been providing the team with an extra boost of energy has been Zac Rinaldo. Playing with Sean Couturier and Max Talbot to start the game, Rinaldo tried to get the Flyers going on the right foot.
He finished the game with six hits in 7:49 of ice time and wreaked havoc on his former teammate James van Riemsdyk all game.
"Yeah, we have to come out guns blazing especially in the first period," said Rinaldo, who was then quick to restore confidence in his team. "I know we’ve been slacking the last couple of games in the first period, but we have to pick things up. We’ll be alright though."