Do the Flyers believe they're a good team?

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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.

Flyers' poor division record biggest factor in being out of playoff picture

Flyers' poor division record biggest factor in being out of playoff picture

PITTSBURGH -- There's a bit of tragic irony to how the Flyers' season will end over the next two-plus weeks.
 
They have seven games left on the schedule. Six of them are teams residing in the Metro Division. Tuesday's opponent, Ottawa, is the lone exception.
 
There are so many reasons why the Flyers are scrambling now, clinging to the desperate belief they can still make the playoffs -- mathematically, they're alive -- against all rational thought.
 
They're six points behind Boston for the second wild-card spot, but they still have to hurdle Carolina, Tampa Bay and the Islanders just to get to Boston.
 
Yet one major reason for the Flyers' dilemma seems pretty obvious: They've been simply awful in head-to-head play against their own division.
 
The Flyers have a winning record against both divisions in the Western Conference.
 
That's not the case, however, in the East where the Metro Division is the only division with three teams over 100 points and where the Flyers have failed miserably to challenge from within.
 
Sunday's 6-2 rout of the Penguins in Pittsburgh left the Flyers with a poor 9-13-2 record against the Metro. It's the only division they have a losing record against.
 
Last season, Dave Hakstol's group finished 14-10-6 against their own division. That was a critical factor in enabling the Flyers to make the playoffs.
 
"We know where we are in the standings and it's not going to be easy to make the playoffs," Jakub Voracek said. "We all know that. We have to work off results of the other teams and try to play relaxed and loose."
 
Against the Eastern Conference overall, the Flyers are close to .500 (21-22-4) yet realize they should be better.
 
These two records represent a very large reason why the Flyers are sitting on the outside looking in as the playoffs near.
 
Right now, at least four clubs from the Metro -- half the division -- will make the playoffs. That says a lot about why games within your section are so pivotal at season's end.
 
"The numbers don't lie," Hakstol admitted on Sunday. "It's a tough road every single night. You've got to do a good job within your division, within your conference.
 
"We've played a lot of tight, hard games. The reality is, we're a number of points out of the playoffs and those points within your division are very valuable."
 
It's something the Flyers have to greatly improve upon next season if they want to be sitting in a playoff spot a month before the season ends instead of playing catch-up when the odds are hopelessly against them.
 
Pens killers
Every team in the NHL has a couple players who have fairly impressive career numbers against other teams.
 
Voracek averages better than a point against the Penguins. His goal Sunday gave him 17 goals and 34 points in 32 career games against Pittsburgh.
 
Voracek admitted after the game he's not sure why.
 
Claude Giroux also has excellent numbers against the Pens -- his two assists in the win left the Flyers' captain with 41 points (14 goals) in 40 career games vs. Pittsburgh.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere has been around a fraction as long as either Giroux or Voracek -- eight career games vs. the Pens -- yet has two goals and nine points in those games.
 
Brayden Schenn doesn't average a point a game against the Pens, but he's close. His assist on Sunday left the winger/center with 20 points (8 goals) in 26 games.
 
The only Flyer who has solid numbers against Pittsburgh and didn't make Sunday's score sheet was Wayne Simmonds. He has 23 points in 28 games. 

Dave Hakstol: Travis Konecny on 4th line 'makes sense in a lot of respects'

Dave Hakstol: Travis Konecny on 4th line 'makes sense in a lot of respects'

PITTSBURGH -- The curious line juggling of Travis Konecny continued Sunday night.

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol again started Konecny on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare's fourth line with Chris VandeVelde, but just as he did in Columbus, Hakstol moved the rookie around.

This was Konecny's third straight game off Valtteri Filppula's unit with Jakub Voracek at the start. The obvious message to Konecny seems to be: Get yourself into a more defensive-minded role early and then let the offense come to you.

Konecny has made some defensive strides.

"It makes sense in a lot of respects," Hakstol said of the move to Bellemare's unit. "He's playing with two players with a lot of structure. He excels in that type of setting.

"If you look at [Saturday], he can bounce around the lineup with different lines and we used him that way. He didn't just play with his two linemates. He moved around a little bit. He's very effective in that role when we're able to get him out there. He gives us a good boost, a good push."

Against Columbus on Saturday, Konecny played on two units with Sean Couturier -- one featuring Jordan Weal and the other, Dale Weise. He also played a few shifts with Filppula and Wayne Simmonds.

The same thing happened Sunday in the Flyers' 6-2 rout of the Penguins (see game story). Konecny finished with an assist and plus-1 in just 8:02. He is one of the very, very few Flyers who is an even. Most are minus.

Konecny, who just turned 20, and Weal, 24, gave the Flyers a lift on Sunday. Weal had a goal and an assist in 13:06.

"No matter who it is contributing, everyone is excited for everybody," Konecny said. "A lot of guys put up some numbers tonight and contributed. It was a good team effort. That's what we want to see."
 
The Flyers were so relaxed it makes you wonder if the pressure of trying to make the playoffs is gone because their odds are so stacked against them.
 
"We’re at that point where you just need to win and just show up," Konecny said. "There's nerves in the back of your mind. We're pretty loose and trying to enjoy it as much as we can going through a stressful time.
 
"We've handled it well. We played a good team, we knew they would push but we pushed harder."
 
Konecny said he's not fazed by the different line combinations he's a part of, often in the same period.
 
"It's not too bad," he said. "I kind of expected it going into a game. I know when I am playing with Belly and Vandy that throughout the game, there's going to be times like penalty kills come up and he'll fill me in with another line.
 
"At the start of the third [tonight], I filled in another line. I know it's going to come. I just expect it. I've played with pretty much everybody on the team. I'm comfortable out there."
 
Loose pucks
The six goals on the road against Pittsburgh last happened on Feb. 20, 2013, when the Flyers won, 6-5. ... Sunday was the Flyers' largest margin of victory in Pittsburgh since March 31, 2003, when they beat the Penguins, 6-1, at Mellon Arena. ... Weal picked up the second two-point game of his career -- both of which have taken place this month. ... Weise has three goals in his last seven games. ... Claude Giroux had two assists, and now has two goals and eight assists for 10 points in 13 games this month.