VOORHEES, N.J. -- Never mind the fact that the Flyers’ win over the Detroit Red Wings propelled them from fifth in the Metropolitan Division to third, returning them to playoff position.
There was another, possibly more important, takeaway from their 5-0 victory at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night.
“We definitely needed something to build off of,” Steve Mason said. “We’re going into three tough buildings to play in with hockey teams that are playing extremely well this season. So we’re going to have to bring our best.”
The Flyers traveled to Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday afternoon, where they’ll face the Ducks Thursday. They’ll go from there to Los Angeles to face the Kings, and finally to San Jose where they’ll meet the Sharks before returning to Philadelphia.
The three California teams are first, sixth and fourth in the Western Conference, respectively. They’re all playing strong hockey -- particularly in their home arenas.
It’s not going to be an easy road trip for the Flyers.
“It’s going to be tough,” Claude Giroux said. “But at the same time, it’s a good challenge for us. We played a good game [Tuesday] night, so we need to take our passion and the way we played, I think we need to carry on that.”
With their win over the Red Wings, the Flyers ended a four-game losing streak, a stretch during which they weren’t able to start games with energy or close them out with any urgency. A stretch during which, according to Scott Hartnell, they looked a lot like they did at the very beginning of the year.
Behavior like that won’t result in wins out West, and the Flyers know it.
“It was a big win for us,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We haven’t been playing our best hockey on the road as of late. [Tuesday] night, I thought we played a pretty complete game. I think we just need to keep building on that and draw from the positives and learn from the few mistakes we did make.”
The Flyers’ final road trip before the Olympic break begins Thursday in Anaheim, against a Ducks team that has just one regulation loss at home this season.
They lost their only other meeting with the Ducks this season, 3-2, back on Oct. 29. In order to win Thursday, the Flyers will have to continue on with what they were able to do against the Red Wings -- play responsibly, play with energy and, as coach Craig Berube likes to emphasize, play well even when they don’t have the puck.
“It was a little bit of a cleaner game,” Mason said. “... I thought our defensemen and forwards did a good job of clearing the shooting lanes, so I was able to see the puck. Guys were working hard on the backcheck to take their time away. We have to continue to improve upon things. This will be a good test for us.”
With the Metropolitan Division so tight (only three points separate third place from seventh place), the next three games represent yet another critical stretch for the Flyers. If they're not careful, they could easily slip far behind the New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Fortunately, though, the Flyers found their swagger in front of the home crowd just in time. They're not fully out of their slump just yet, Berube said, but winning the way they did Tuesday night will most definitely help them heading into this tough week of games on the road.
“It was big, for sure,” Berube said. “Getting a win after those three losses at home here was pretty big for our confidence more than anything.”