Is morning matchup cause for concern for Flyers?

Is morning matchup cause for concern for Flyers?
November 28, 2013, 11:00 pm
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The Flyers on Friday host the Jets in an 11:30 a.m. start -- their earliest start this season. (USA Today Images)

What’s it like to wake up in the morning and head to Wells Fargo Center for an 11:30 a.m. hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets?

Well, the Flyers are about to find out on Black Friday.

“I’ve played at 12 o’clock before but never 11:30,” Wayne Simmonds said. “It doesn’t matter what time the game is, we have to show up.”

Given the Flyers weren’t ready to play at night in either game at Florida or Tampa, there is concern that this two-game slide could lengthen.

The Flyers have a back-to-back with Saturday’s game in Nashville, which is part of a 12-day odyssey that also takes them to Minnesota, Detroit, Dallas, Ottawa and Chicago.

Worse, they come off it after meeting the Blackhawks with a back-to-back, facing Montreal at home the next night.

“We've gotta be ready,” Vinny Lecavalier said. “I’ve never played that early. Maybe once at 12. The team that is ready to go or gets that first goal or something, you've got to get that energy right away. We’re not used to playing at that time.

“After two losses, we have to start the right way. Especially the way we played the last two weeks and then losing these two games in Florida. Definitely not the road trip we wanted. We got to turn it around now and move on.”

His coach, Craig Berube, would agree. It’s been years since the Flyers played a game so early but they have done it in the past.

“Mentally, you've got to be ready to play,” Berube said. “That’s the bottom line. You’ve got to be ready to compete. Right from the drop of the puck. Winnipeg is going to come hard. They’re a good team. We've gotta be ready to handle pressure.”

The Flyers need a better effort from their top line of Claude Giroux centering Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek. Against the Lightning they had just three shots as a unit.

“They didn’t do a good enough job [in Tampa],” Berube said. “They've got to lead the way. They didn’t make enough plays, they looked frustrated.”

Berube also said his players didn’t backcheck hard enough on a critical shorthanded goal. It goes back to a lack of competitiveness, as he said after the game on Wednesday.

The Flyers lost a chance on the trip to get into a playoff spot on their own.

“We played well at times [earlier] and didn’t get a point,” Mark Streit said. “Sometimes that is dangerous. These two games [in Florida] were a wake-up call. They came out and really forechecked us hard. We had a hard time.

“We have the kind of team we should take it to the other team. Put our style of hockey to them and use our speed, our forecheck and not the other way around. The last two games just not good enough.”