Flyers happy with wins but not proud of comebacks
The Flyers have earned two points after trailing at some point in the third period eight times this season. (USA Today Images)
VOORHEES, N.J. -- Matt Read called it “the calm before the storm.”
Things are different in the Flyers' locker room between periods these days. There’s suddenly a quiet understanding amongst everyone on the team that, no matter the circumstances, they can win.
It doesn’t matter anymore if they’re tied with or trailing a tough competitor heading into the third period. They’re capable of clawing their way back to victory – and they know it.
There’s no reason to expect a change anytime soon.
“Once you’ve done it once, you have that confidence,” Read said. “That’s something that we lacked a little bit last year and the beginning of this year. We were down a goal in the third period and we didn’t know how to come back. Good teams know how to win games when they’re down in the third period, and that’s something not to be proud of – you can’t be coming back all the time, you’ve got to play with the lead once in a while.
“But it’s something that, once you do it once, you get a little confidence and the guys in the locker room and on the bench know that this is our game and if we’re down one or two goals, we still have an opportunity to win this game.”
Forget just once. Tuesday’s 4-3 victory in Buffalo was the eighth time this season the Flyers have stolen two points after trailing at some point in the third period. That’s just one win shy of the franchise record.
A big part of the team’s confidence has come from scoring goals. In the first month of the season, the Flyers averaged 1.81 goals a game. Compare that to December, when they averaged 3.43 – and fought their way into playoff contention.
“Confidence is huge,” Sean Couturier said. “At the start of the year we had a hard time scoring 2-3 goals in a game. Now we know we’re capable of scoring 2-3 goals in a period. The mindset is a little different, but at the same time, we’ve just got to go out there and do what we’ve got to do.”
There’s a darker side, of course, to the Flyers’ sudden reemergence as the NHL’s comeback kids. Fighting back from deficits means they’re falling behind too often in games – that, perhaps, their starts aren’t where they should be.
No one is more aware of it than their coach.
“You are going to be down in games in this league,” coach Craig Berube said. “Every game is tough, and you are going to be down sometimes. So far, we have been doing a pretty good job of it, but I think we have to focus on getting better starts in games.”
Brayden Schenn agreed.
“We’ve been [coming back to win] as of late,” Schenn said. “But that said, you want to try and be up in the third period rather than be down. It just boils down to better starts and better first and second periods.”
Nevertheless, the Flyers are finding ways to win, and really, that’s what counts. After lingering around the basement of the Metropolitan Division, the Flyers are now in third place, and have spent the past few weeks in playoff position.
It’s a far cry from the way things started out in 2013-14 no matter how you look at it, though, and that doesn’t just go for the on-ice product.
“The guys in the locker room and on the bench know that this is our game," Read said. "And if we’re down one or two goals, we still have an opportunity to win this game."