Flyers top Flames to sweep Western Canada

Flyers top Flames to sweep Western Canada

Flyers on their win over the Flames

January 1, 2014, 12:45 am
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The Flyers celebrate Braydon Coburn's empty-net goal in Tuesday's 4-1 win over the Flames. (USA Today Images)


CALGARY, Alberta – Coach Craig Berube called a meeting before the Flyers kicked off their road trip last week. He was concerned about the way the team was approaching away games.

Whatever he said, the Flyers listened. After their 4-1 win in Calgary against the Flames on New Years Eve, the Flyers brought their record on this crucial six-game road trip to 3-0 (see Instant Replay).

They’ve now won four in a row for the first time all season.

“I think our team’s real confident right now,” Berube said. “I think they believe they can win games, whether you have your best stuff or not. Like in Vancouver [Monday] night, we didn’t have our stuff but we still won. They’re finding ways to win. They’re a confident team right now.”

After their come-from-behind victory Saturday in Edmonton and their win in Vancouver less than 24 hours ago, the Flyers swept the three teams of Western Canada for the first time since 1996 – the only other time they’ve accomplished the feat.

“It’s been three tough games,” Scott Hartnell said. “I don’t think we played extremely well in the first two, but I thought we played a solid game tonight. Razor [Ray Emery] played unbelievable for us tonight. He was making the saves and there was hardly any rebounds. And when your goaltender’s hot, it’s nice to have.

“Six points in three games, especially when we haven’t been playing well, it’s huge.”

Tuesday night was far from a perfect effort (the Flyers were clearly tired, after all), but it was enough for the victory and they never trailed the Flames. Better yet, with goals from Mark Streit, Brayden Schenn, Braydon Coburn and Hartnell, the Flyers who hit the back of the net were the players the team has needed to elevate their play.

“It can’t be G [Giroux] every night. It can’t be Vinny [Lecavalier] every night,” Hartnell said. “You’ve got to spread the wealth around. We did that tonight. Our line played great and it was a big two points.”

A day ago in Vancouver, the Flyers were outshot 44-27, and outplayed so badly their coach had nothing positive to say despite the victory.

They did a much better job defensively against the Flames. Granted, the competition was easier, but Berube was pleased. His message, that the Flyers’ defensive play was unacceptable against the Canucks, got through.

He’s likely even happier that the Flyers believe there’s still work to do – despite their winning streak and confidence.

“We played pretty sloppy yesterday,” Streit said. “Mase [Steve Mason] kept us in the game, he made some key saves. I thought we got lucky a little bit. We started out pretty well today, the first 10 minutes. Then those little things creeped into our game again. A little sloppiness, but we picked it up in the second period and I thought the third period went really well.

“We won three games, but we’ve still go to realize we have to play better defensively. We can’t fool ourselves.”

There’s credit due, as well, to Ray Emery, who started his first game since Dec. 21. The Flyers’ backup netminder had a strong night, and won the first game of his last five attempts. He gave up just a single goal, to Sean Monahan in the second period.

He knows there’s still work to do – personally, and as a team. But, he said, there’s no reason to complain about the way the Flyers closed the book on 2013.

“After the way we started the season,” Emery said, “to be where we’re at, starting the new year, I think we’ll take it.”