VOORHEES, N.J. – It’s not a big, goal-scoring winger. It’s not a tough defenseman. It’s definitely not a top-rate goaltender.
In order to make it past the first round of the playoffs, the Flyers believe all they need is a little more consistency.
“I don’t think we played too many full 60-minute hockey games in the playoffs,” Brayden Schenn said. “When you’re not playing 60 minutes in the playoffs, you’re not going to win.”
Of the seven postseason games they played against the New York Rangers, the Flyers came closest to a consistent, 60-minute effort only in Game 6 a week ago at the Wells Fargo Center. But even that game started off with about five minutes of the Flyers running around in their own zone.
The series was, in a way, a microcosm of their season as a whole. When they played well -- like most of Game 6 -- they were practically unstoppable. When they played poorly, they played very poorly, no matter their opponent. But all along the way, they struggled to put in those elusive complete-game efforts.
That tendency to inexplicably stop executing for a period or so hurt them most when it mattered most -- Game 7. In the second period, they gave up the only two goals the Rangers needed to win the game and move on to the next round.
They know they were guilty of it, and they paid the price.
“I just think we tend to get away from our game too often,” Steve Mason said. “We can play 20 minutes, 40 minutes of unbelievable hockey and completely control our game, but we tend to get away from that a period at a time. Come playoffs, if you’re not going to gather a full 60 minutes, that’s what’s going to cost you.
“I think in our first-round series, I don’t think there was a complete effort for a full 60 minutes, and that’s a frustrating point too, because we were one game left from coming away from that series and going to the next round. It’s disappointing to feel that we didn’t have a complete game throughout the whole series.”
Of course, the consistency issue isn’t just pertinent to the playoffs. The Flyers’ season as a whole was marked by inconsistency right from the beginning -- both on a game-by-game basis as well as overall. And not just a game or a period here and there; they were wildly inconsistent, beating the St. Louis Blues one week and struggling to keep pace with the Toronto Maple Leafs another.
Had they been just a bit more dependable during the season, they could have had home-ice advantage over the Rangers, who finished just two points ahead of them in the standings.
“I think in the regular season we’ve got to be more consistent,” Vinny Lecavalier said. “I think from maybe the West Coast trip right before the [Olympic] break until the end, we played some pretty good hockey.
“… You don’t want to lose out in the first round, but Game 7s can go either way. We have to learn from it and players who have never been in that position grow from it, and get better as a team for next year.”
The Flyers believe their roster already looks good on paper (see story). There aren't any major missing pieces -- it wasn't a specific type of player or role player that kept them from advancing past the Rangers.
And looking ahead to 2015, that's what they plan to build on.
“We’ve just got to worry about how we play our game,” Claude Giroux said. “I think we did a lot of good things this year that we see what kind of team we are.
“We have a lot of character in this room, and there’s a lot of positive.”