You might say the Flyers are notoriously late starters in hockey games.
How do we know that? Over the past 46 games more than a half-season only twice have the Flyers led in a game within the first 10 minutes of play. Nineteen times, theyve trailed.
Coach Peter Laviolette thinks it could be an anomaly for the third-highest scoring team in the league.
The players say theyve discussed it over and over and no one has discovered a reason for it.
This much we know for certain. There is no lead the Flyers cant overcome. Theyve proven that often enough. Perhaps lacking a sense of urgency to score right away factors in.
Regardless, the Flyers need to fix it because coming back from 2-0 deficits as has happened in three straight games wont occur very often once the Stanley Cup playoffs begin.
We gotta bury our chances and take that lead because when it comes to the playoffs, its huge, Voracek said.
We know we can score a lot of goals. Thats important. But its better not being down 4-0 or 3-0. Its going to cost us a game in the playoffs. We have to be better at it.
Wayne Simmonds, who hasnt scored in 14 games, says the Flyers have played with fire for the majority of the year with these slow offensive starts.
We have to fix it, he said. To win the playoffs, youve got to get up because teams will get up on you and shut you down. Youre not going to win those games.
Its going to become more difficult in the playoffs to win games coming from behind. Were a resilient bunch. Weve got to figure it out.
Danny Briere, who has just one goal in his last 28 games, says the players have discussed a number of theories, but nothing really makes sense as to why the Flyers give up the games first and sometimes, second goal.
Weve tried it all, we talked about it, its not something that has crept up on us the last several weeks, Briere said. Its been going on for months now. Weve tried everything.
It still comes down to preparation and everybody being ready to go and prepared to play when the game starts, rather wait for the opponent to set the tempo and react to it.
Although the Flyers are winning, the lack of early scoring cant be taken lightly. They had to come from behind 2-0 to earn a point in a shootout loss at Boston.
They had to come from behind 2-0 to earn two points in overtime against Pittsburgh.
They didnt overcome the 2-0 hole against Florida and it cost them dearly given the Penguins won and now have a four-point lead on them as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Lavy challenged the beat reporters to come up with a solution. One reporter suggested a team prayer.
That would be crazy, Laviolette replied. You cant bring religion into the locker room. Theres so many different variations of religion. ... Your suggestion is hokey.
Laviolette said the Flyers probably should have held a team prayer between the first and second periods against Pittsburgh because of how poorly they played that second period before rallying for a win.
I dont think hokey works, he said. You cant bring the live chicken in and cut its head off.
Getting serious here
We address everything, every day, he said. Good starts and good finishes. Were constantly looking to get better.
Is it an anomaly then? Laviolette paused.
I dont know, he replied. If youre asking me if I liked the way we started against Pittsburgh, I do. If youre asking me if I liked the way we started the game against Florida, I dont love it but I liked it better than theirs.
I dont think it was great. But it wasnt good enough. Thats my interpretation were capable of being better.
Theres no question the Flyers are getting oodles of shots and chances. Theyre just not potting goals. They average 3.14 goals a game
Through 11 games during the month of March, the Flyers have scored 29 goals. In their last seven games, they have just 14 goals. So, the scoring here is actually thinning out.
Because the Flyers never panic when they trail in games, the expectation seems to be, well start slow and finish strong and get the win.
Im not sure exactly what it is, Laviolette said. Things are getting tighter a bit. Playoff hockey and desperate teams. Florida did a great job of checking last night. You got to give them credit for eliminating quality chances.
Thats a desperate hockey team that needs to continue to fight for their home ice and for their existence for the second or third slot wherever it may fall in that division.
Briere said twice this week that coming back from 2-0 deficits isnt going to work come April and May.
Thats the part that scares me a little bit, he said. In the playoffs, you might get away with it once but its not going to happen very often. Thats the part which is a little scary about our starts so far.
He admitted perhaps the lack of a sense of urgency exists only because the team knows it can goals late and still win.
Were trying to figure out why it keeps happening over and over again, Briere said. Usually, when you address it, after a while, youve fixed the problem. But it keeps happening. I wish I had a clear cut answer.
Maybe there simply isnt one.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at firstname.lastname@example.org.