Flyers must be '60-minute men' vs. Senators

Flyers must be '60-minute men' vs. Senators

April 11, 2013, 9:15 am
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The 1951 song 'Sixty Minute Man" crossed over from generation to generation right into the 21st century as a theme song for many an NFL club.
 
The phrase became popular  over the years in all forms of life and it carries significance in sports, though the song wasn’t intended as such when it made its debut.
 
Which brings us to the Flyers.
 
Peter Laviolette’s club hasn’t exactly been full of “60-minute men” this season on the ice, and that is a pivotal reason why the team is all but eliminated from playoff contention.
 
Most nights, the Flyers play 40 minutes, disappear for 20, and take a result that is often less than satisfactory. If they do that tonight against the Ottawa Senators at the Wells Fargo Center, they will be looking at another loss.
 
The Rangers' 3-2 shootout victory over Toronto on Wednesday pushed the Flyers back to seven points behind New York, which occupies the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
 
For two periods on Tuesday at Long Island, the Flyers competed even though they trailed 2-1 going into the third period to the Islanders. Then they disappeared.
 
Tonight, the Flyers will need 60 minutes to have any chance against the Senators, a club that has caused them some grief over the past couple years.
 
“We’ve been talking the whole season about putting in 60 minutes together and that has been a little bit of an issue for us,” Kimmo Timonen said. “[Tuesday], I thought we played 40 good minutes. Maybe 20 minutes, whatever, it wasn’t enough. It’s a hard league. If you don’t get 60 minutes and play hard 60 minutes, you don’t usually win the game. That’s been pretty much the story all year.”
 
Laviolette doesn’t necessarily agree that the Flyers' compete level waned in the third period, though his players said it did. What he does feel is that mistakes occurred that made it hard to reverse from one period to the next.
 
“There was mistakes through the course of the 60 minutes that happened in the past as well,” he said. “It was a competitive game. I don’t look at Claude Giroux and think that he didn’t compete. I don’t look at Kimmo like he didn’t compete. There were things that we could have done better through the course of the game that in turn had an impact in the game.”
 
What defies explanation is how the Flyers could collectively have such a final-period letdown against a team that is now sitting at No. 7 in the East.
 
The last time the Flyers were this far out of a playoff spot was on March 26 after losing 5-2 to the Rangers here in Philadelphia. So much was riding this week on the Islander game. Just like so much is riding on this one against the Senators.
 
“I don't think too many guys in the room are happy,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We're going to have to dig really, really, really deep from here on out.”
 
The team and Laviolette talk about this all the time, too. It’s nothing new. Yet the message of playing the game with a sense of urgency that one would expect from a team grasping to find a playoff lifeline hasn’t gotten through.
 
“Lack of focus, experience, playing smart hockey at the right time,” Timonen offered. “Sometimes you have to make the simple play and put it deep and try to make the nice play. Try to make something happen out of nothing. Those are the things that cost you games. Maybe that is something we have to learn as a team.”
 
He was referring to Brayden Schenn and Simmonds trying to make a play out of nothing in neutral ice instead of thinking defensively and getting a puck deep for a much-needed line change in the second period that led to the Islanders’ eventual game-winning goal.
 
“The second period, they take over and we could never recover,” Ruslan Fedotenko said. “But just looking back at the whole season, even when we play well. When we have one or two breakdowns and get scored on, I feel like it just changes the momentum. It changes maybe a little bit of, maybe not confidence, but we just not create as much offense as we want to. We just need to create more offense and score more goals.”

And be prepared to play as 60-minute men, too.