Panaccio: 'This is the best 1-6 team I've covered'
The Flyers are just 1-3 under new head coach Craig Berube. (AP)
They’re on the verge of winning. Or so they’d like you to believe.
The Flyers, at 1-6, haven’t had the start to the season they’d like. Not even close. But soon -- perhaps even tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins -- they’re going to right the ship.
And they should know. They’ve been in situations like this before.
“What’s going on right now makes me think of when we played Boston in the playoffs,” Claude Giroux said, referencing the 2010 Stanley Cup semifinals. “We were down 3-0, but we were talking to ourselves and we were like, ‘How the hell are we down 3-0? We should be up 3-0.’ We just stayed with it and came back and won the series.
“It’s a long season. If you think about it, we still have 75 games left. That’s a lot of games.”
The Flyers are 1-3 under new head coach Craig Berube. The standings might not reveal it, but they actually have made progress in a number of areas: Their 5-on-5 play has improved, their power play is gaining in traction. Both the coach and players feel the team’s skating has improved.
“The last few games, obviously we haven’t been winning games, but the way we’ve been playing, it looks better,” Kimmo Timonen said. “Still, we’re losing games so we can’t be happy. But after the coaching change, it’s not a one-night thing. It’s going to take time to get the system down, really understand what to do in different situations.
“We’re moving in the right direction, but the only thing we need now is a couple wins in a row and to get the confidence back.”
And if the Flyers are to be believed, it’s just a matter of time. Perhaps even tonight against their most hated rival.
“You can feel that we’re ready,” Tye McGinn said. “We’re playing really good hockey right now.”
The rookie example
McGinn, the rookie who was recalled from the AHL's Adirondack Phantoms only after Scott Hartnell went down with injury, has been the Flyers’ best player since he arrived.
In two games, McGinn has three goals (most on the team) and has found a home on the top line with Giroux and Jake Voracek.
He’s demonstrated better than any of his teammates exactly what the coach has been seeking from his players.
“He’s getting to the net and he’s getting some bounces, which is what it’s all about,” Berube said. “The game’s about shooting pucks and getting to the net offensively for me, he’s done that and been rewarded for it.”
For his part, McGinn has just tried to play the best he’s able. Perhaps, he noted, it’s just a matter of Berube’s system fitting his kind of game.
“I guess so,” McGinn said. “I’m just trying to keep the game simple right now. I’ve been talking a lot with Chief (Berube) and Jake and Claude a lot, and they’re telling me what I gotta do out there, and that’s just keep it simple, drive the net with your stick down. They’re great players, and they’re finding ways to find me.”
After seven games, Giroux is still in search of his first goal of the season.
The stress and pressure has amplified for the Flyers’ captain because starting off a year in a slump is much tougher emotionally than when it happens in, say, December or January.
“If it’s during the season, you don’t pay attention to it as much,” Giroux said. “When it’s the start of the season the panic button goes a little bit quicker. But I’ve just got to stay with it. I’ve been working hard and staying focused, and it’s just a matter of time now.”
Giroux has two assists and a minus-3 rating on the season.
Steve Mason will get the start in net tonight, his sixth of the season.
Despite his 1-4 record, the Flyers have been very happy with his performance. Mason has a .926 save percentage and 2.23 goals-against average.