CHICAGO -- When this road trip began on Nov. 30, the Flyers were two points out of a playoff spot.
Nearly two weeks and six games later, they return home to Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night to face waiting Montreal three points out of a spot.
They lost ground by going 2-3-1, earning just five of a possible 12 points.
“Nobody is satisfied with it,” coach Craig Berube said. “I’m certainly not. I don’t think my players are, either. We could have done a lot better and I am sure they think so, too.”
They could have won in Dallas. They should have won in regulation at Ottawa, but lost in a shootout.
Seriously, no one gave them a snowball’s chance in hell to beat the No. 1-ranked Blackhawks, but you have to ask yourself if the 'Hawks are really that much better than the Flyers. As in five goals better after the 7-2 beating Berube’s team took at United Center on Wednesday (see story).
“We were one point away from being .500?” Scott Hartnell mused. “I think we have to be a more consistent road team. We had some good periods, at times.
“But not 60 minutes in a row. Not in the same game. We have to learn how to take care of ourselves because we have another long [trip] after Christmas.
“Tomorrow is a big game [against Montreal]. We have to have a lot of energy at home. It’s like we haven’t been in our home beds for a while. We were away in Florida for three, four days, then home for one and away for 12.
“We got to make these next couple games count. This is a big stretch for us to get back within reach of the playoffs.”
Players and coaches say the Flyers have to stop having bouts of critical mistakes, especially in their own end, where opponents seize on it and score multiple goals in a short period of time.
Dallas, Ottawa and now Chicago saw that within portions of games.
“We didn’t take care of our end, we made a few stupid mistakes and we weren’t looking behind our backs,” Wayne Simmonds said. “Play a team like that and they are going to capitalize.
“Pretty much like Dallas. We played a great first, and then the second period, a few stupid mistakes and it’s in the back of our net.”
Look for Steve Mason in goal Thursday against the Canadiens as the Flyers try to get back into the win column before heading to Washington for an afternoon matinee against the Capitals on Sunday.
LOS ANGELES -- Goalie Jonathan Quick has returned to the Los Angeles Kings after injuring his groin in the first period of the season opener.
Quick led the Kings during warmups before Saturday's game against the Anaheim Ducks.
The two-time Stanley Cup winner missed 59 games with the injury, which occurred Oct. 12 against San Jose. He has been skating with the Kings for several weeks, but he didn't make any rehabilitation starts in the minors.
The Kings only announced his return by activating him from injured reserve 40 minutes before the opening faceoff.
Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2012 when the eighth-seeded Kings steamrolled the competition on their way to the franchise's first Stanley Cup title.
When healthy, Quick has been the Kings' starting goalie since December 2008.
Ducks: Vermette's 10-game suspension upheld
NEW YORK -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld the 10-game suspension assessed to Anaheim Ducks center Antoine Vermette.
Vermette slapped his stick against the back of linesman Shandor Alphonso's legs after losing a faceoff to Minnesota's Mikko Koivu during the third period of the Ducks' 1-0 win on Feb. 14. Vermette had a hearing with Bettman on Thursday after appealing the initial suspension.
Bettman announced Saturday that the 10-game ban would remain; Vermette has served four games already.
Vermette will lose $97,222 in salary.
The normally mild-mannered Vermette appeared to act out of frustration when Alphonso dropped the puck before the forward had put his stick in place on the ice. Officials immediately assessed a game misconduct to Vermette.
PITTSBURGH -- For Flyers coach Dave Hakstol and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, tonight’s Stadium Series game between the Flyers and Penguins brings back memories.
Hakstol coached North Dakota in an outdoor hockey in college, while Gostisbehere participated in one as a freshman at Union College.
For Hakstol, however, this whole idea of outdoor hockey began when he was growing up in central Alberta in the small town of Drayton Valley.
“I think everybody’s got great memories of growing up outdoors,” Hakstol said. “We had a back creek that we could shovel off. I’m sure everybody could sit back and tell you stories of playing on the outdoor rinks.
“For me, most recently, I’ve got two kids growing up playing on outdoor rinks, backyard rinks. It’s pretty cool. It takes you right back to the heart of the game.”
Hakstol’s outdoor coaching experience came during a game between Nebraska-Omaha and his North Dakota squad in 2013 at the “Mutual of Omaha Battles on Ice.”
“I don’t know how to describe it,” Hakstol said of the event. “It’s just a different feel. It’s an ideal scenario.”
He said while tonight's game is special, it’s still about the points, first and foremost.
“You are cognizant of everything that surrounds the event and the game,” Hakstol said. “Yet for us, it’s two points. We’re fighting for every point here. That is going to paramount.”
Gostisbehere played at Fenway Park in 2012 for Union in a game against Harvard. That night, Union won, 2-0, to become the first ECAC club to ever win outdoors.
“I played at Fenway Park against Harvard and it was fun,” Gostisbehere said. “That was my freshman year and the only one I ever played in.
“Good crowd. It wasn’t packed obviously, but it was a night game. The ice was really good. It was really cold, too. It was pretty cool.”
As warm as it was Friday here -- a historic 78 degrees -- temperatures will begin in the 40s tonight at Heinz Field and then drop. It rained this morning but has since ceased.
“The biggest thing for me was to take a second, look around,” Gostisbehere said, admitting he failed to do that in college and won’t make that mistake again.
“Just cherish it a little bit. You are so focused on the game, it’s tough. That was biggest thing for me. It was such a blur. Just being in college and having the opportunity to play at Fenway Park was pretty awesome.”
This will the Flyers first-ever outdoor affair in Pittsburgh.
“It’s pretty exciting and I’m glad to be part of it,” Gostisbehere said.