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-Blackhawks 5 things: Matinee showdown with NHL leader

Flyers-Blackhawks 5 things: Matinee showdown with NHL leader

Flyers (12-10-3) vs. Blackhawks (16-6-3)
1 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com

Behind captain Claude Giroux's two goals and overtime heroics Thursday, the Flyers enter Saturday's matinee with the Chicago Blackhawks on their longest win streak of the season.

That and more as we get ready for the afternoon showdown at the Wells Fargo Center.

1. Three's company
With their 3-2 OT win over the Senators, the Flyers have now won three (3!) games in a row for the second time this season, a sign the ship might be turning in the right direction.

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol applauded his team's 61-minute effort afterward. Comparing it to Tuesday's win over Boston in which Steve Mason single-handedly stole two points from the Bruins, Hakstol said the Ottawa game was a "real, good, consistent effort" throughout the lineup, which the Flyers will have to mimic again Saturday in order to beat Chicago.

On Friday, Hakstol rewarded the Flyers with an optional practice. Brandon Manning, who has missed the last two games because of a possible concussion, returned to practice Friday and was cleared to play. If Manning returns Saturday, Andrew MacDonald seems like the likely candidate to come out.

Manning's return would be welcomed for the Flyers. The 26-year-old has been one of the team's most consistent players. He's been aggressive, both offensively and defensively, and his play is not deserving of a healthy scratch. But with no morning skate and limited player availability Friday, Manning's status for the Blackhawks' game remains unknown.

2. Power hour
For the Flyers to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games Saturday, they will have to do so not only with a sound, defensive game but also on special teams.

If there is one area Chicago has struggled this season, it has been the penalty kill. At 70.1 percent, the Blackhawks have the league's worst PK unit, and have a middle-of-the-road power play despite all of their offensive firepower.

The Flyers, on the other hand, have the league's third-best power play at 23.6 percent, and their penalty-kill units have improved lately, getting up to 80 percent. The Flyers have two PP goals in their last 19 opportunities.

Still, Chicago's power play is dangerous despite its recent struggles. The Blackhawks have just one power-play goal since Nov. 19, and went 0 for 4 on Thursday against the Devils.

3. Corey's crease
The Blackhawks also enter Saturday hot, winning three of their last four games; however, they have gone to overtime in their last three games. Chicago has had issues with slow starts in games recently, and the Devils' game Thursday was another example of that.

New Jersey took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but easily could have had a larger lead had it not been for Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, who's been excellent this season. Crawford faced 13 shots in the opening period Thursday and kept the 'Hawks in the game, as he has all season long. The Blackhawks sit atop the NHL with 35 points, and Crawford is a major reason for that.

Crawford has a 2.27 goals-against average and .927 save percentage this season. He's pitched two shutouts and has faced 33 or more shots in his last four games. Scoring on Crawford has not been easy for opponents this season, but the Flyers do average 3.1 goals, third in the NHL.

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: Let's stick with Giroux. The 28-year-old snapped a nine-game goal drought Tuesday with power-play goal, and then added two more Thursday — one at 5-on-5 and one in the 3-on-3 overtime. Giroux's play at even strength has been scrutinized, but his point production remains potent. Giroux has a four-game point streak — three goals, two assists — and has 22 points in 25 games this season. He also got engaged Thursday in Ottawa.

Blackhawks: So many players to watch, but let's highlight the ageless Marian Hossa. The 37-year-old continues to be an effective player even as he grows older. Now in his 18th NHL season, Hossa leads Chicago with 12 goals, including the game-winner in overtime against New Jersey Thursday. Hossa tallied his 500th career goal against the Flyers back on Oct. 18, and has 15 goals in 48 career games against the orange and black. He still has it.

5. This and that
• Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is out for Saturday's game because of an upper-body injury, per CSN Chicago's Tracey Myers. Toews hasn't played since Nov. 23.

• Mason, Saturday's projected starter, is 7-12-3 with a 3.42 GAA and .890 save percentage in 23 career games against the Blackhawks. After a disaster start to the season, Mason has a 2.22 GAA and .912 save percentage over his last nine games.

• Chicago has five players with seven or more goals, and five players with double-digit assists.

Flyers' trip to Ottawa brings back 'fond memories' for Travis Konecny

Flyers' trip to Ottawa brings back 'fond memories' for Travis Konecny

OTTAWA, Ontario — Exactly one year ago, Dec. 1, 2015, Travis Konecny was a member of the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s.

He had just learned that he had been invited to the Team Canada selection camp for the World Junior Hockey Championship and he was at the Canadian Tire Centre spending time with future Flyers teammates during the morning skate as they prepared for a game that night against the Ottawa Senators.

Fast forward one year to today, Dec. 1, 2016, and Konecny is back at the CTC, this time to face the Senators alongside his current Flyers teammates as a key part of the team’s offense.

Quite a step forward in just one calendar year for a kid not named Crosby or McDavid.

“It’s crazy how fast it happened and I’m definitely humbled I was given the opportunity. They believed enough in me to make the jump this year and it definitely hits me every day that I get the opportunity to play in the NHL,” said Konecny, who has scored four times and added nine assists through the first 25 games of his NHL career. He has also added a team-leading 33 penalty minutes and that goes a long way in explaining the type of game he plays.

“I don’t know what happened. I’ve never been like that before," Konecny said before the Flyers' 3-2 overtime win Thursday (see game story). "When you’re playing in the NHL, some guys will run over you all game if they can so I think part of these penalties I’m taking is me just having to step up and I’m just setting an example of sticking up for my teammates."

It wasn’t until his second game in the league that he took his first penalty, but he was on the score sheet before that having collected two assists in his debut Oct. 14 in a 4-2 win over the Kings in Los Angeles.

His first goal came Oct. 25 in a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. The key for his success in making the jump from junior to the NHL is simple.

“Just keeping things simple," he said. "Learning in the NHL is about reading off mistakes. You can’t always make a play, you have to be smart and make sure you’re doing what’s right for the team and I think just keeping my game simple is what got me here." 

There is one main difference between the two levels, Konecny added.

“The speed, and I don’t necessarily mean just skating," he said. "Thinking wise and how fast plays happen. Guys like [Senators defenseman Erik] Karlsson, he’s thinking so fast and he knows his play two or three steps before the next guy does, so you just have to try and outthink guys and to me that’s been the biggest jump.”

Konecny is not foreign to the Senators’ home ice surface. He spent part of his time in junior playing there while the 67’s home arena was being renovated.

He had to leave several passes for friends and family for the game Tuesday night, his first as a pro in the city that was dazzled by his play in junior for 2½ seasons.

“It was a lot of fun and it brought back a lot of memories," Konecny said after going scoreless in 14:13 of ice time. "We didn’t play in front of as many fans as we did tonight but definitely a lot of games played here and a lot of fond memories.

“Even flying in [Wednesday] was something special and driving around the city looking at the roots where I was for three years.”