Simon Gagne has played nine games for the Flyers in his second return to the organization.
He scored in his first game back in Philly, which also represented his first goal of the season after nothing in 11 games with the L.A. Kings other than five assists.
Since then, the 33-year-old forward scored one more goal and added an assist. The truth is, Gagne has been among the more motivated and better forwards – on both ends of the ice - since his arrival, even without obvious point production.
He hasn’t, however, been able to help propel the Flyers in the standings. His first game was Feb. 27 against Washington. The Flyers went from ninth to eighth in the standings with that 4-1 victory.
Since then, it’s been downhill. Today, the Flyers are 14th in the Eastern Conference and still five points out of a playoff spot.
Gagne says the burden of lifting the team has to fall on everyone’s shoulders - not just one or two players, and certainly not just on team captain Claude Giroux.
Has it been frustrating that he hasn’t been able to have a greater impact since his arrival?
“Yes and no,” Gagne said. “The reason I came here, I had no control, it was a trade. But I was very excited to come here. Looking at it as a challenge for me to play and the role the team would give me. I remember first talk I had with Lavy [coach Peter Laviolette], he gave me the role of playing on the third line. Play on the power play once in a while and help the team get back in the playoff mode. We won the first couple games and help the team get back to .500, but from that point on, it looked like, we win one game, we lose one game. It’s not enough good hockey. Personally, you try to do more but at the same time, it’s a team game. It doesn’t matter.
“Look at Claude every game. He gives 110 percent and he is going to try and do everything to help us win but he is only one guy. We need more than one guy if you want to win. It is what it is in this league now. It’s hard to make the playoffs. I had a chance to be with really good teams and be in that position and right now, getting in at the right time, good stuff can happen.
“Our hockey is not consistent enough. We need to find it quick to get some wins in a row to get back in. At one point, it’s going to be too late.”
The good news is that the Flyers haven’t fallen further behind in points while their playoff chances have actually doubled since the beginning of the week from a 4 percent chance to an 8 percent chance.
Yeah, those are low odds, but there remains a flicker of hope. Which is why the Flyers have spent the week scoreboard watching while they wait to play Pittsburgh on Sunday.
“Every day I walk in and I’m looking at where we’re at,” Gagne said. “Right now, it doesn’t look too bad. We didn’t play in the last two days. It’s not too bad. We still have another days before playing the next game. The only thing we can do is get better in practice and using that as a motivation and make sure you get enough rest and enough energy for the last stretch of the season. It’s going to be a battle right to the end. We have a chance to do that.
"We have some games at home, four or five in a row and it’s going to be key for us to be ready for those. Let’s try to use that week as an advantage instead of a disadvantage. That’s what we’re gonna try to do.”