Do the Flyers believe they're a good team?

flyersbumming-slideshow-usa.jpg

Do the Flyers believe they're a good team?

Does anyone believe in the Flyers? Do the Flyers believe in themselves? Where’s Dr. Phil when you need him?
 
Flyers captain Claude Giroux says the team’s overall confidence level is so low right now, players no longer see themselves as being a good team.
 
Ask any fans out there and they’ll tell you the Flyers are a bad team with good players who simply can’t score and, thus, can’t win games.
 
This is a week when the Flyers should pile up some points with Carolina, New Jersey (Thursday) and Edmonton (Saturday) awaiting them.
 
They left a point on the ice in Carolina, but if the Flyers can get the next four, it might get them back into the playoff picture within the standings.
 
“We need to get points and we can’t fall back too far in the standings, even if we’re not too far from a playoff spot,” Giroux said.
 
“It’s hard to say, but we need to stay positive. We’re a good team. When we start believing it and we start playing like it, we’re gonna be a dangerous team.”
 
So players on the current roster don’t believe?
 
“Maybe they believe it, but we need to believe it 100 percent,” Giroux said. “When we start talking about it and doing it better -- I really believe that when we start believing we’re a good team, we’ll start winning games.
 
“We’re not convinced that we are right now, but we are. We’re gonna start winning games soon.”
 
Vinny Lecavalier was Giroux’s linemate until Wednesday when his line was changed. Does he believe?
 
“I don’t think he means we don’t believe,” Lecavalier said. “Everything comes with confidence. Once your confidence is there, I think we do believe we’re a good team. We just need that confidence and the results to do it.
 
“Sometimes, you can play really well, work hard, but if you don’t get results, it’s frustrating. Confidence is everything. If you know you can win, know you can make that next play or make that defensive play or whatever play, if you’re confident about it, usually, good things happen. That comes with results.”
 
Wayne Simmonds, who was bumped down a line and is now with Michael Raffl and Sean Couturier, agreed.
 
“Confidence is a huge thing,” Simmonds said. “When you believe in yourself, I think you are able to make simpler plans and actually be more effective. I think that’s the key. We have to believe in ourselves more.
 
“Because we’re playing good hockey for the better part of games and then when it comes down to crunch time, we make one or two mistakes and that’s the game. And that is hurting us right now.”
 
Believing in themselves will only come when the Flyers start scoring more than one goal a game and can put some W's up on the board.
 
Scott Hartnell’s scoring skid, dating back to last season, ended at 19 games at Carolina. Giroux’s skid is already 20. He doesn’t seem to get very good scoring chances now, nor is he creating good chances with his line.
 
He had one shot in New Jersey and two in Carolina.
 
That’s not going to promote confidence.
 
Giroux’s psyche seems fragile based on his tepid comments in postgame situations. At 25, he is still a young captain facing adversity for the second consecutive season, but this time it’s all around his own game.
 
“He’s always hard [on himself],” Jakub Voracek said. “He always wants to be the best, tries to be the best. He is one of the best. Obviously, if the puck doesn’t go in it’s frustrating. But you want to keep your composure.
 
“That’s why he’s such a good leader, because he’s so tough on himself. He wants the best out of himself and out of everyone else. I’m sure once he gets that next little [goal], everything will get better.”
 
Veteran defenseman Hal Gill, who’s been in the NHL 16 seasons, tried to use some levity to explain things.
 
“Fortunately, I’ve never been in that position -- I’ve been slumping for a while,” Gill said with a smile. “And what helps me … is just hard work. I think he works really hard and that’s all you can ask. For me, I don’t think of a leader as a guy who scores goals, but as someone who does the little things, plays the right way.”
 
Flyers coach Craig Berube has a fairly simple answer to the question of how this team can start believing in itself again.
 
“It … gets changed when you win games,” Berube said.

Best of NHL: Maple Leafs topple Blue Jackets to boost playoff hopes

Best of NHL: Maple Leafs topple Blue Jackets to boost playoff hopes

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- William Nylander and Leo Komarov each had a goal and an assist and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri also scored, and Frederik Andersen had 32 saves as Toronto stayed in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Atlantic Division. Nikita Zaitsev scored an empty-net goal after the Blue Jackets pulled their goalie for a sixth skater near the end.

David Savard and Brandon Saad scored for Columbus, which lost for the first time in the last five games. Backup goaltender Joonas Korpisalo stopped 26 shots. The Blue Jackets stayed in third place in the Metropolitan Division, two points behind leader Washington and one behind Pittsburgh. They play the Capitals in Washington on Thursday night (see full recap).

Ladd rallies Islanders past rival Rangers
NEW YORK -- Andrew Ladd scored the tiebreaking goal with about 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the third period and the New York Islanders rallied for 3-2 victory over the crosstown-rival Rangers on Wednesday night.

Anders Lee had a goal and an assist, and Nikolay Kulemin also scored for the Islanders, who pulled two points behind Boston for the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot. Anthony Beauvillier had two assists and Thomas Greiss stopped 34 shots.

Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash scored, and Antti Raanta finished with 25 saves for the Rangers, who remained six points behind Columbus for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Islanders, who beat the Rangers for the third time in four games this season and seven of eight over the last two, won for just the second time in six games (1-3-1). The Islanders also improved to 17-9-4 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano (see full recap).

Matt Read on Flyers' changes: 'We're running out of time here'

Matt Read on Flyers' changes: 'We're running out of time here'

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As far as he can remember, in his six years with the Flyers, Matt Read hasn't played on a line with both Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

Read has spent time with each of the Flyers' top two scorers at various times but never together. The Flyers hope the cohesiveness comes together quickly after making changes to three of the lines on Wednesday in an attempt keep their sagging playoff hopes.

"We're running out of time here, so hopefully a couple line changes here gives us a little spark offensively," Read said. "We've still got to play better defensively, but you know it's kind of do-or-die right now. So hopefully chemistry clicks right away and things can start going off the bat."

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol had hinted at adjusting the lines recently but stuck with the current structure in Tuesday night's 3-2 loss at Winnipeg (see game story). With the ability to practice Wednesday in Minnesota before Thursday's game against the Wild, Hakstol followed through with the adjustment.

Hakstol met with the four centers before practice and then had Giroux with Voracek and Read. Valtteri Filppula centered Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was teamed with Travis Konecny and Chris VandeVelde.

Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Dale Weise stayed together.

"That line, it's been a good line for us," Hakstol said of Schenn, Couturier and Weise. "Off their game a little bit yesterday, but they've been a good line and I'm confident they'll come back and do a good job tomorrow. The other changes are just looking at different things coming off a road performance yesterday… just looking at a way to inject a little bit more into our lineup for a real tough road game here tomorrow night."

The Flyers didn't lose any ground with Tuesday's loss with Boston, Tampa Bay and Carolina also losing. But the Flyers now have just 10 games remaining as they trail Toronto by seven points for the final wild-card spot.

"We didn't take advantage of the opportunity we had for two points," Hakstol said. "At the end of the day, you can't sit back and watch what's happening elsewhere. You've got to take care of your own backyard, and that's what our focus is. We didn't get it done yesterday. Point blank, we didn't get it done. So, we've got an opportunity tomorrow night for two points and that's what our job is."

Reuniting Giroux and Voracek, along with Read, is one way he hopes to solve the issue. Voracek said he knows the onus is on his line to lead the way.

"We know what to expect from each other," Voracek said. "When we move our feet, we are dangerous. So that's what we've got to do. We've got to have fun. We've got to find a way to score the goals and help the team to win the games, because we're going to play a lot of minutes."

Another possible change for Hakstol could come along the defense. Brandon Manning practiced on Wednesday and Hakstol said it's possible he could rejoin the lineup against the Wild.

Manning hasn't played since March 11 because of a right shoulder injury. Hakstol said he's confident Manning is ready and a decision will be made Thursday morning on which of the seven defensemen will play in the game.

"He's practiced well," Hakstol said. "He got extra work in yesterday. He practiced well today. We'll have a decision to make tomorrow."