SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Craig Berube called it a “challenge” even before his Flyers got on their plane last week for a three-game trek up the West Coast.
"The Bermuda Triangle," coaches call it.
Eastern clubs come out to California and disappear against Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.
“Someone referred to it as the Bermuda Triangle coming into California,” Wayne Simmonds said. “But I think we played pretty well. We had a high compete level all three games. Four points out of six is pretty nice.”
They lost 5-3 to Anaheim – the top club in the NHL - to start the trip, then Steve Mason pitched a 2-0 shutout in Los Angeles before winning the finale, 5-2, on Monday night against the Sharks.
They skated, they competed, they battled. No one expected the Flyers to win two of three. They would have they beat the odds just to get three points on the trip. Instead, they got four points.
The only “downer” is they failed to gain ground on Columbus and remain the ninth seed overall in the East. The Blue Jackets, Detroit and Flyers all have 62 points.
When the trip began, the Flyers were third in the Metropolitan Division and seeded seventh in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re fighting for our playoff lives right now,” Simmonds said. “We need every single point, I keep saying it. Every guy in this room is aware of what we have to do. We played pretty well this road trip.”
The Flyers will leave Northern California on Tuesday morning. When they return home, they’ll face Colorado (Thursday) and Calgary (Saturday) to close out the week before the Olympic break begins.
“We won more battles, we were competitive, it was like we wanted [the game] more,” Claude Giroux said. “We played the last two games against good teams. When you struggle and play good teams, that is when you get your confidence back. You have a good period, you start playing better, and we had two big wins against San Jose and L.A. and go back home here with more confidence than when we [began] the road trip.”
Giroux said the 6-1 shelling to Boston on Jan. 25 shook them up.
“We weren’t happy with the way we were competing and obviously, we’re competing better and playing more as a team,” Giroux said. “When we work hard and have fun, that is when we play our best.”
Berube was pleased with the compete level the entire trip.
“It boils down to being competitive,” he said. “You come out west to these three teams. They’re big teams, they all skate well and if you don’t skate and you’re not competitive, you lose. I thought we played pretty good in Anaheim [and lost]. This game was better. All three games, the guys showed up and did a good job.”
Matt Read, who scored in the win over the Sharks, said it was important to see where the Flyers stacked up against tough competition out West.
“It’s positive reinforcement to go home with two more games before the break,” Read said. “That was something in our minds before this road trip. Come out over .500, which we did. We played great hockey all three games. We got to go home and take care of business.”
The Flyers have 64 third period goals on the season, which is tied with Chicago for second-most in the NHL and is just two behind league-leading Boston. ... They have scored 41.6 percent of their goals (64 of 154) in the third period this season. ... San Jose had 27 giveaways Monday night. The Sharks' previous high was 20 forced at Ottawa on Nov. 12.