Sunday, March 27, 2011
Posted: 9:36 p.m. Updated: 11:52 p.m.
By Tim Panaccio
Perhaps the most telling stretch of games in the Flyers season ended with a thud Sunday night at Wells Fargo Center against the Boston Bruins.
Three games against top-notch Eastern Conference contender -- Washington, Pittsburgh and Boston, all in South Philly.
Peter Laviolettes players predicted a week ago that these games would provide some insight into this Flyers club, which has been inconsistent night-to-night during the second half of the season.
So what we did learn after two shootout losses plus Sundays partly lethargic 2-1 loss to the Bruins, in which too many players didnt elevate their game?
Average, Kimmo Timonen said, adding that the Flyers could work harder than they have.
The road to the Stanley Cup Final is looking a lot harder than it did back in mid-January. Although the Flyers still hold the top seed, the reality gap between themselves and others is much closer than we suspected.
Timonen said the concern level in the dressing room needs to ramp up soon.
We only got seven games left and we cant go into the playoffs playing up and down hockey, Timonen said. Its not gonna work. They were a better team. They had more energy. They deserved two points.
Its an individual thing. If youre not prepared to play, its hard to ramp it up. Its one of those things. You got to come to the rink and be ready to play. Im saying we played bad but we could have done a better job.
Had the Flyers duplicated the effort they showed against Washington, they would have toppled the Bruins.
Oh, big time, Timonen agreed. The Washington game was the kind of game wed like to play every night. It shows we can play that game when everybody is on the same page and really play well. Were looking for that game again.
Overall, the Flyers collected just two points against The Other Three. Shootouts can go either way, yet the fact remains, Laviolette expected much more from this group.
He said the Washington loss established the identity this team needs every night.
We were not up to that tonight, he said. Some lines generated. Mikes Richards line probably generated the most. But as a group, we need to go over the boards and consistently bring it, line after line in the attack.
Because that is missing, the games got to be played somewhere else and its being played in our end.
Boston has been the best team in the East in the third period this season, outscoring opponents, 89-51, coming into the game. It was a 1-1 affair going into the final period, so those numbers didnt bode well.
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas had two huge stops on Jeff Carter to open the third. Those two shots were quality.
And thats just it. The Flyers had only 28 shots and not enough quality scoring chances. When things were going good in January, scoring chances came in bunches. Now, theyre minutes or periods apart. Its happening every game.
Yeah, and that is when we start turning pucks over is when we dont get those scoring chances, said Richards, who alternated between being terse and cooperative in answering questions, while also mumbling under his breath about same questions.
We are chipping pucks in and being physical and that is what gets us in trouble, too. We can be so aggressive and so physical that it seems like it is so unstoppable, but we start turning pucks over and are not playing the body.
It is pretty easy when you come off the ice and play in the red zone for a while. It is something that we have talked about but it is obviously something we need to put more work into.
A high-sticking call against Richards gave the Bruins a late power play. Rookie Brad Marchand made the Flyers pay with a rebound in the crease for the eventual game-winner.
Scoring chances aside, the Flyers were careless with the puck in this one, trying blind passes that ended up as turnovers. They had a season-high 20 giveaways.
Number one, you got to make them come to you on your feet and you cant turn the puck over in the neutral zone, Bruins winger Mark Recchi said.
You cant turn the puck over against them or they will kill you, our neutral zone play was good, we had good gap control and good tempo. We know theyre a good team and we cant afford to make many mistakes against them or it will cost you.
These losses are costing the Flyers. Pittsburgh moved to within two points of them in the Atlantic Division with a 2-1 shootout victory over Florida earlier Sunday.
The Flyers and Pens meet Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
I dont think we had the 60-minute effort we needed, Kris Versteeg said. We have got to find it. I think it comes from within, and we have a lot of character in this room. Its not like we dont try to play 60 minutes. We just have to go out there and get ready for the next game.
Versteeg had the lone Flyer goal at 4 minutes, 45 seconds of the opening period. He redirected Richards half-pass, half-shot on Thomas for his 6th goal as a Flyer and 20th overall of the season.
The Flyers now have six players with 20 or more goals.
It was a great play by Richie, Versteeg said. I didn't think he saw me when he really did. He set me up and it was a great play.
Brian Boucher, who played well with 34 saves, had 10 that period alone. Four were quality stops on Patrice Bergeron and Shawn Thornton.
Thomas robbed Flyer defenseman Andrej Meszaros in the crease to start the second period and then the Bruins went on the power play and scored quickly to tie the game.
Tomas Kaberles point shot hit Boucher in the paddle and the puck caromed onto Nate Hortons stick with Boucher moving the opposite way, not expecting the rebound to go where it did.
I mean the first period we played was pretty good, Meszaros said. We had some passion. We had some energy. In the second, I dont know, it just disappeared for some reason. They were better. They did everything better than us We just need more energy, passion, and more battling out there
Boston hammered the Flyers on the faceoff through two periods, winning 62 percent of the draws.
Obviously, the Bruins are not the Islanders, who the Flyers beat up on Saturday, 4-1.
Hopefully, the last seven games we can find that consistency and build on it, Timonen said. The last few games we havent been able to do that. Hopefully, we can regroup in Pittsburgh.
Theyre running out of time.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at email@example.com