MONTREAL – Flyers captain Claude Giroux talked about a lack of competitiveness. Not showing up.
Kimmo Timonen talked about a much-needed attitude change. How teams no longer fear the Flyers.
Another lost weekend went into the books Saturday at Bell Centre as coach Peter Laviolette’s Flyers got thumped, 4-1 to Les Canadiens, completing back-to-back road losses.
“We gotta play 60 minutes and compete,” Giroux said. “We've got guys in there that care. It's unacceptable the way we played tonight. It's not just one or two or three guys. It's the whole team. ... We've gotta be ready for those games.
“Just no compete. We're not competing. We're not winning battles. We're just going through the motions.”
As bad as Friday’s come-from-ahead 5-3 loss to the Devils was, this was far worse. The Flyers lacked for shots, scoring chances, energy and competitiveness.
They have now played five pairs of back-to-backs and are a horrid 3-7 in those 10 games. This was the second time they went 0-2 in consecutive games.
Often regarded in recent years as a dangerous club on the road, the Flyers are a toothless 2-8 this season. No one in the NHL fears them.
“To me, sometimes we go through the motions,” Timonen said. “You can’t win games like that in this league. The attitude has to change. It has to be ‘We’re the Flyers.' We go into buildings and people should be afraid.
“It’s not the case right now. The attitude has to change. We have to go back to playing old Flyers hockey and be tough, play hard and good things will happen.”
Ilya Bryzgalov, who has played all but two games this season, was given the night off in favor of backup Brian Boucher, who didn’t fare very well, stopping 26 of 29 shots.
In front of the goaltender, Laviolette changed up his lines again, but still couldn’t produce a winning road formula.
“We don’t seem to be able find our way in the offensive zone,” Laviolette said. “Defensively, it’s been competitive on the defensive side of things. ... The offensive side of the puck is where we are misfiring now.
“Offensively, it’s not where it needs to be at. We need more zone time, more attempts at their net. We’re not generating a lot toward the net right now.”
The Flyers had 19 shots in this game, and just two in the opening period. As bad as they played, it was a 2-1 game before Montreal iced it early in the third period when Boucher anticipated a shot, went down, couldn’t decide whether to get up, and was finally beat when Tomas Plekanec roofed a backhander under the crossbar.
That was it.
In the final 4:30 of the game, the Flyers actually strung together a couple of competitive shifts with some actual shots on net. Had that kind of determination been present sooner, they might have gone home with a win.
“We know we've gotta play better, and we will play better,” Giroux said. “Obviously, we're not happy with our start, but we've got a lot of hockey left to play. We're going to have to start winning soon, and we will.”
Incredibly, the Flyers caught a break coming here as starting goalie Carey Price missed the game with the flu. Backup Peter Budaj came into play with just five victories in 19 career starts for Montreal.
As has been the case far too often this season, the Flyers more or less waded into the game, earning just one shot through the first 11 minutes of play. By then, the Habs had four shots and a goal thanks to rookie Brendan Gallagher’s snap wrister off the rush from the left circle at 8:59.
In all, a very lame, very embarrassing period. This is the NHL. Two shots over 20 minutes on a backup goalie? Lame.
No shots, no scoring chances and far too much time lurking on the perimeter instead of taking residency in the tough areas.
“We've gotta make sure we're on the same page,” Giroux said. “We gotta start battling more. We gotta wanna win more. Find a way to get it done.”
Things started badly in the second period, as well, when Max Pacioretty put a puck behind the net and Gallagher centered it into the slot. Boucher came out, but David Desharnais would go backhand on him.
“He was a lefthanded shot,” Boucher said. “Maybe because I went at him, he just shot it.”
And scored, 2-0 at 1:15.
Ten minutes later, the Flyers had just four shots for the period and six overall. If you’re wondering, the fewest shots they’ve ever put on net was 13 on Dec. 11, 1990 at Washington.
“The attitude has to change,” Timonen said. “How do you change it? Everybody in their head has to change it. Change it. Nobody else change the attitude except yourself.
“Too many guys in the room, their attitude has to change. We have to go beat people. We have to win games. Now we go out and see what happens. We’re not winning games like that.”
The Flyers scored on their seventh shot of the game. Jakub Voracek carried the puck into the zone, then centered to Danny Briere, who used a Canadien as screen before beating Budaj to make it a 2-1 at 13:56. Briere, Voracek and Brayden Schenn made up one Laviolette's new lines.
The Flyers could easily have tied the game when the Canadiens got dinged with back-to-back delay of game calls in the final minutes of the period. Alas, the Flyers failed to register a single shot on either power play.
“It wasn't pretty,” Briere said. “In the second period, we had a few power plays and we didn't take advantage of it. We might have had one chance, but both units [were] definitely not good enough.”