Flyer'd Update: Flyers vs. Ducks
The Flyers didn't win three consecutive games last season until April. (AP)
Last season, it took until April 3 for the Flyers to win three consecutive games. They had completed 2/3 of their season by the time they were finally able to say they’d secured six points in three attempts.
They’ll have a chance to accomplish that elusive feat tonight when they host the Anaheim Ducks at the Wells Fargo Center. Winning the game would make a significant statement about the Flyers’ beliefs that they’re finally headed in the right direction.
“We’ve got to go game by game,” Claude Giroux said. “And when we do that, we’re going to get closer to the playoffs. There’s a lot of games left. We don’t need to panic or anything, we’re playing good hockey. Every game’s going to be a big game. Every team can win games. For us to climb back up and stay up, it’s going to be important for us to keep winning games.”
Despite the rough start to their season, and the fact that the Flyers still have only three wins, they’re only five points out of playoff position with two games in hand.
With a 3-7 record, they’re well aware that they’re fortunate.
“We thought that a while ago too,” coach Craig Berube said. “Nobody was really taking off in the East, it’s been pretty tight. Definitely feel fortunate, but you’ve still got to win your games, just got to worry about winning our games and doing what we need to do.”
While the Ducks might hold the advantage in, well, basically every area of the game right now, there is one space in which the Flyers are actually performing better: special teams (see story).
Anaheim’s power-play success rate (8.2 percent) ranks dead last in the NHL. The Flyers, at 10 percent, are 27th.
On the penalty kill, the Ducks sit in 26th place at 76.2 percent. The Flyers are in ninth position, having killed off 83.7 percent.
“Well, it can (be the X-factor),” Berube said. “I talk about special teams a lot -- a lot of times it’s half the game. We’ve been doing a pretty good job staying out of the box, and we’ve got to continue to do that.
“If you put Getzlaf and Perry on the power play enough times, nothing good’s going to happen for you. We’ve got to be disciplined.”
A big test
Defensively, there’s no question the Flyers have improved over their past few games. But tonight will pose a big challenge.
Anaheim is in only third place in the Pacific Division, but they’ve got a plus-8 goal differential and two key players are big offensive threats.
“(Ryan) Getzlaf and (Corey) Perry are great players, so when you’re out there, you’ve really got to do your job," Berube said. "You got to make sure that you’re think about that, first of all, that’s your first priority out there, is to not let them capitalize or get the opportunities. I think it’s a mindset more than anything -- but that’s a day-in, day-out thing.
“If you want to be a good team without the puck, that takes work every day. It just doesn’t happen. You’ve got to keep on it all the time, every game, you’ve got to keep working on it, make sure your mindset’s right when you get out there against those type players.”
Perry has six goals (13 points) in 12 games, and Getzlaf has five goals (12 points) in the same span.
“We’ve been playing good defense all year,” Giroux said. “We haven’t given other teams a lot. The puck just hasn’t been in the net for us. The last few games I think we’ve been playing better, and we need to keep playing like this.”
Mason goes again
Steve Mason, once again, will get the start in net tonight. It’s the ninth start of the year for the Flyers’ goalie, who lays claim to a .930 save percentage and 2.15 goals-against average.
The other goaltender, Ray Emery, likely won’t get a chance to play until this weekend, when the Flyers have back-to-back games against the Washington Capitals and New Jersey Devils.
“[Mason] is going well, and the schedule is spread out a little bit,” Berube said. “But [Emery] is definitely going to get his time, there’s no doubt about it.”
Emery has started just two games this season, posting losses in both. That hasn’t shaken the team’s confidence in him, however.
“They’re both capable of winning a lot of hockey games,” Berube said. “Look at Ray Emery’s record: 17-1 last year. It is what it is. That’s really about it.