VOORHEES, N.J. – If there was a message that came out of practice today for the Flyers it was delivered best by captain Claude Giroux.
To steal a line from Monty Python’s Holy Grail: the Flyers are “not dead yet.”
While it may seem like everyone is ready to write off this team after a less than stellar start, the fact remains that they are within striking distance of a playoff spot and despite what people may think, the team still believes it can find it’s way out of the hole it has dug for itself.
“I don’t truly believe we’re done if we lose [Friday against New Jersey],” Giroux said. “Obviously it’s a big game for us because we need to climb back into the standings but we can’t be saying the season is over if we lose. We have to play the way we can play and just go one game at a time.”
The Flyers will be five points out of a playoff spot with 20 games to play after tonight. And while the number may seem a little daunting, it’s not as bad as it seems.
Really, it’s like being 2 ½ games out with 20 play. It’s definitely doable.
“I still like our team,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “I’d like them to play better… it’s as simple as that. We have a good, young group of players here.
“[This is still a playoff team.] If we play better. We have our work cut out for us with the schedule we’ve already played the points we’ve missed out on attaining. It’s a difficult task but it’s something that can still be had.”
The Flyers only have two games in the next nine days – a rematch with the New Jersey Devils at Wells Fargo Center tomorrow and a trip south to take on the Lightning in Tampa Bay Monday – and then will sit back and assess where they are situated when the schedule ramps back up again in Pittsburgh on March 24.
“We need a big win, but we need to get on a bit of a roll too,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “One up, one down isn’t cutting it. We definitely need a big win an then try to build off it and put that into some sort of a streak.
“Whatever we do we have to find it quick.”
It’s not a lack of effort, as some might suggest. This Flyers team does try and does care, it’s just been the victim of it’s own self-inflicted wounds sometimes and those are creating a fine line some nights between winning and losing.
“We need to play better obviously,” said Ruslan Fedotenko. “But how to play better [is the question]. We have to go back to our foundation and work on the little things. It’s not necessarily about having to score goals but the little things are what matters most – supporting the puck. Finish the checks. Be in the right spot where you need to be. Communicate. If we do that, if we focus on the basics and our foundation we are a very good team, but we haven’t been playing that way.”
Nevertheless the Flyers are capable of it as currently situated. They showed it with big wins this season against the New York Rangers, twice against a vastly improved Carolina team and even in Pittsburgh in the most-watched game of the season in the NHL.
But the consistency is what’s lacking. It’s something the team has talked about ad nauseum. They’ve seen video of their errors until they are blue in the face. There’s nothing more that needs to be said.
“Talk is cheap,” Wayne Simmonds said. “There’s not really much more to say. We just have to go out there and do it.”
And the Flyers believe they can. And as long as they believe it, they’re not going to give up on the season. Not by a long shot.
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