Flyers searching for answer to early-game woes

Flyers searching for answer to early-game woes

January 19, 2014, 3:30 pm
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The Flyers tied a franchise record with nine come-from-behind wins in the third period this season. (USA Today Images)

VOORHEES, N.J. -- If there’s one thing the Flyers have proved this season, it’s that they are a resilient bunch.

They have already fought back nine times to earn a victory when trailing at some point during the third period.

It’s not the best way to win games, and the Flyers know it.

“I think we need to do a better job playing 60 minutes,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said after Sunday’s practice. “If we do, I think we’ll make it a lot easier on ourselves. We’re a good team, but we need to be more responsible on how we play.”

The latest comeback came on Saturday. After two sloppy periods, the Flyers turned it on in the final frame to hand the New York Islanders a 6-4 loss at Wells Fargo Center (see story).

The Flyers entered the third period trailing by a goal after they left goalie Steve Mason out to dry. They were sloppy in their defensive zone and committed some costly turnovers.

To spark his club, Berube pulled Mason in the second in favor of Ray Emery.

“It’s frustrating for everybody,” head coach Craig Berube said. “I don’t think we want to start games the way we have been lately. We’ve got to change it.

“For me, it’s the mindset, because the third periods we’re coming out strong, we’re doing a lot better job. It’s about doing things simpler in the first period and doing things right.”

Playing a simple game is something Berube preached to his club at Sunday’s practice. Several of his players echoed their head coach.

“I think we just got to be more mentally prepared,” Wayne Simmonds said. “I’m not saying guys aren’t mentally prepared, but I think we need to be that much harder on ourselves to make sure you’re doing the simple things right. Not doing anything extra, just getting pucks deep and keeping it simple, playing our game.”

The Flyers will wrap up their home-and-home -- and season series -- with the Islanders on Monday afternoon in Uniondale.

Divisional games are becoming more and more important as the season progresses. The Flyers are already 3-0 against the Isles in 2013-14, but they certainly aren’t overlooking their division rivals.

“It’s going to be tough anyway,” Mark Streit said. “They’re in desperate mode. They need to win games and us as well. This time of the year all the games are intense. [Saturday] was a crazy game, up-and-down hockey and back-and-forth. That’s not the way you want to approach the game. We need to play definitely better tomorrow.”

The Flyers are currently tied for second place in the Metropolitan Division with the New York Rangers. Both clubs have 55 points, but the last-place Islanders are hanging in the race with 45.

“They’re fighting for their lives, we’re fighting for our playoff lives, and it’s going to be a big divisional game again,” Simmonds said. “Obviously they’re going to be hungry, they had the lead there and they let us come back. Now we’re going into their building, and it’s going to be a tough task. We just have to come ready.”

So it’s easy to say that the Flyers need to have a strong start on Monday, right?

“If we don’t it’s going to bite us sooner or later,” Berube said. “We talked about it today, having a better start tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.”

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