Dropping the Gloves: Is power play or penalty kill more important?
The Flyers have registered at least a point in each of their last five games. (USA Today Images)
You can feel it in the dressing room. You sense it when you see the Flyers on the ice now.
They are finally playing a more relaxed game. That comes with scoring some goals, winning some games and gaining some confidence in themselves.
The Flyers now have a five-game point streak after Tuesday’s 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
“As long as you get points,” Mark Streit said. “We have three games at home, three really big games for ourselves. Play well, pay attention to detail. I thought our forwards have done a great job managing the puck and not turning it over and chipping pucks by and using our speed up front and forehecking hard. That was the key a little bit.
“We got to keep doing that. As soon as you start playing too open, try to be too cute or complicated, you get in trouble.”
The Flyers were far out of the playoff picture a month earlier but now can visualize it’s not out of the question. They’re only two points back now.
“That’s looking at the big picture and we’re trying not to look at it,” Claude Giroux said. “We’re just trying to look at our game and see what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong and fix it.”
They’re scoring some goals now, getting clutch play from goalie Steve Mason, and have tightened up defensively even though their penalty kill has nose-dived recently.
Regardless, they have come a long way since mid-October.
“Well, the year is a pretty long year, but the way earlier in the year has been going for us, it’s been a lot of bad losses or tight losses, whatever,” Kimmo Timonen said. “But to be able to turn these games, for two points for us in the third period, that’s a good sign. I’m looking forward to moving on. We have a couple of home games coming up here and we go from there.
“The team looks good right now. We’re skating, we’re working, doing the system pretty well. Goalies are playing unbelievable so it’s a lot of good things going for our team right now. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
The three-game homestand continues Thursday when the Buffalo Sabres come into Wells Fargo Center.
“We’ve been playing smarter,” Scott Hartnell said. “Obviously, when you win games, it’s a lot more fun and confidence goes up. You are not as tentative as you were when things not going in for us before. Everyone’s attitude has been better. Everyone is playing together and harder and that is what you need to have a successful team makes a run to get into the playoffs.”
Flyers coach Craig Berube said the boos his club was hearing on home ice didn’t do much for morale, and he's hoping his club gives them a reason to cheer into the weekend.
“Confidence is a big thing,” Berube said. “Especially with your top players producing now and getting some points, feeling good about themselves, going out and playing the way they can.”
Hartnell said the Flyers deserved what they got from fans in recent weeks.
“I don’t think we have played hard at home,” he said. “It starts with our best players on the power play. it’s been awful at home. We’ve spent more time trying to break it out than in our zone passing it around and getting shots. Every team has a great penalty kill and they work hard to defend and we’re not working as hard as they are. It starts with effort, second and third effort on pucks and getting set up and we’ll feed off that.”
The Flyers were 1 for 4 on the power play on Tuesday. And there were no boos, either.
Winning solves a lot of problems.
“It is easier for us to have confidence when we have the lead or are down,” Jakub Voracek said. “If you pull off a couple wins like we did the last five or six games, it’s easier. We play pretty good. Those games were tough and we managed to win. It was a huge game for us. We have a home stretch right now and have to play the same way.”
Walsh to the Olympics
Sources tell CSNPhilly.com that referee Ian Walsh, who was born in Philadelphia, was the only U.S. official picked by the IIHF to work the Sochi Olympics in February. The 41-year-old official has been with the NHL since the start of the 2000-01 season.