Maybe it was because they were missing Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros and others were forced to step up.
Maybe it was because, for weeks now, the coaching staff has been harping on tightening up in front of their goalies.
Or maybe it was simply because the Flyers played a clean, minor penalty-free game and werent forced to use their penalty killers, saving on the defenses legs.
Whatever the reason, Peter Laviolettes Flyers seemed to do a better job of crease-clearing Sunday night in Washington.
That job figures to be a trifle harder Tuesday night as the Detroit Red Wings are in town for Mark Howes jersey retirement.
Timonen (back issues) and Meszaros (suspected groin) remain out indefinitely, though a source said their injuries are not serious enough to threaten the remainder of the season or postseason.
The Flyers got a strong performance from Andreas Lilja, who had sat six previous games, but came off the bench to provide almost 16 minutes along with rookie call-up Erik Gustafsson, who gave the Flyers another 15:24.
He did a good job jumping in, Laviolette said of Lilja. You talk about managing minutes, the guys we put in there were veteran players and he was one of them with the two guys we traded for. I thought we did a decent job defensively. We rolled the defensemen over pretty good and got a lot out of them.
The next question is how this team divvies up the minutes in losing two of its top four D-men.
Injuries happen, Braydon Coburn said. The good thing is we have a lot of defensive depth like Lills and Gus just waiting in the wings to show what they have.
Myself, Matty Carle and Kube Pavel Kubina and Gross Nicklas Grossman, anytime you get a chance to play minutes and contribute, everyone wants a chance to play. Especially, defense. The more you can play the more you can get into a rhythm and get involved in a game. Thats a good thing.
Laviolette admitted not having to use his defense to kill a single penalty saved on overall minutes but
Its not something were banking on the rest of the year, he said. Those guys are going to have to kill penalties. Thats just the way it is right now.
The Flyers are fortunate they picked upGrossman and Kubina before the trade deadline because theyre shorthanded on who they can recall from the Phantoms given injuries down there and salary cap issues here.
I dont think minutes was a problem in Washington, Laviolette said. The players we picked up were veteran defensemen. They werent a couple of 20-year-olds we threw into the lineup and were unsure about.
Gus has come up here and done a nice job. The two guys picked up at the trade deadline are here for that reason here to kill penalties and here to provide valuable minutes and here to play against the Henrik Zetterbergs or Alex Ovechkins of the world.
I thought theyve done a nice job. Even Gus coming up, I thought he played a heck of a game.
The Flyers did a better job of crease-clearing against the Caps, but they Red Wings represent a different skill set. Their movement with the puck forces teams out of position. Maintaining a crease presence will be a bigger challenge.
We want to make sure that we make it a tough place when they come to that primary scoring area crease, Coburnsaid.
The Caps had some chance and it great because Bryz Ilya Bryzgalov held the fort for us. When you have a 1-0 game, you need your goalie to make some big saves and when we needed him to, he made some big saves.
Detroit (89 points) has 10 more points than the Flyers, yet only occupies the second seed in the equally competitive Central Division, which much like the Atlantic, has four teams right now qualifying for the playoffs.
The Red Wings are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, yet have been very pedestrian on the road with a 16-16-1 record.
Then again, the Flyers have been equally challenged at home where they are just 15-10-5. The last time these two teams met mid-February in Motown the Red Wings eked out a 4-3 win.
I liked the way we played in Detroit, Laviolette said. I thought we played good enough to win that hockey game. We played them a couple times this year theyve got some real capable forwards.
The one thing they bring, is that veteran team. Theyve got guys who have played a long time and theyre experienced. We need to try and kill them with youth and enthusiasm.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at email@example.com