Road Warriors Excited to Come Home
While there'ss still half of a season to go, when all is said and done the focal point of the 2011-12 campaign for the Philadelphia Flyers may be about overcoming adversity.
Whether it pertains to personnel decisions, injuries or goaltender shuffles, the team has consistently had to jump over hurdles and has continually succeeded.
Even with all the drama, the team has managed to exceed expectations, currently sitting in the fourth seed (27-13-4) of the highly competitive Eastern Conference, only four points out of first place.
With all the other ‘issues’ receiving the majority of attention, there is one occurrence this season that could have become a huge problem.
Since November 9th, the Flyers played 20 of their last 29 games away from the Wells Fargo Center.
“You know, when you look at it sometimes in the summer, it doesn't have the bite than when you're living it real,” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “The 20 on the road out of 29 and what we just went through was a lot for our group. We talked about it and it was good to get through that and still be in decent shape for where we sit right now.”
Being in decent shape doesn’t really do the team justice.
Despite playing only five games on the road prior to their 20 game stretch run, the Flyers managed to put together a record of 12-6-2 on the road during that span.
Additionally, they now boast the best road record in the entire NHL (16-7-2).
“It sets up now where the home games outweigh the road games and we get a chance to come back and take care of some business at home,” Laviolette said.
Winning at home has become the number one priority for the Flyers.
“Our home record isn’t that good this year,” Claude Giroux said “We’ve got to be a pretty good home team if we want to play well in the playoffs.”
No matter who spoke after Tuesday night’s home win against the Minnesota Wild, the focus revolved around the team playing better on home ice.
“Obviously it's been a tough December,” Kimmo Timonen said. “We played a lot of games on the road and our home record is not where we want it to be.”
The Flyers' losses on home ice are a problem that date all the way back to last season.
Despite positing the third best road record in the league last season, the team only managed the 13th best home record.
This season is shaping up in a similar fashion. As of Tuesday night, the team had the fifth worst home record in the league (11-6-2).
Of course, that standing may be more a case of circumstance more so than ineptitude; the Flyers are the only team in the league who has played less than 20 games at home this season.
“We've been asked a lot of questions about our home record lately,” Laviolette said. “There have been a lot of home games recently that I like, but they've been split between 7 games on the road or 6 games on the road or 3 games on the road. We haven't had any time here.”
Even though the stats may say otherwise, the Flyers have actually played fairly well at home as of late.
Since the beginning of December they have played seven games at home and have posted a record of 5-2-0 in that span.
Regardless, the team will have plenty of opportunities to inflate their home statistics in the coming weeks; 10 of their next 14 games will be played at Well Fargo Center prior to going on a four game Western road trip.
“We've got a stretch of a lot of games at home,” Jaromir Jagr said. “We really should take advantage."
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