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Competitiveness Key to Quick Start

by Joe Siville / Philadelphia Flyers
Stevens happy with team’s effort through 10 games

Coming off a road trip which saw three games in four days, you might think the Flyers are a little worn out. Tired, sure, but as far as their competitiveness goes, that’s simply not the case and Saturday’s hard fought 2-1 win over an average Bruins team is a perfect example.

“If you’re competitive, it’s going to help all parts of your game. You look at the really good offensive players - Danny Briere for instance, he’s so competitive on the puck and he never quits on a play. Scott Hartnell played on that line, he’s winning a lot of puck battles right now,” commented Head Coach John Stevens.

“It’s just the effort, the pursuit and the fight on the puck. That’s an area we clearly wanted to get better at,” continued Stevens. “If you look at our power play right now, our effort on puck recovery has been terrific, we’re winning puck races and we’re winning puck battles. We’re winning fights to puck to get set up and that’s going a long way to help.”

The power play has been a strong part of the Flyers’ early success. The squad is currently tied for fifth in the NHL at 22.5 percent, scoring nine times on 40 opportunities, after going 1-for-2 on Wednesday against the Panthers and recording a power-play (and shorthanded goal) against Boston on Saturday.

The game in Boston marked the sixth road game on the year for the Orange and Black, who now get a four-day rest between games before going back on the road and continuing their season-high eight-game road trip.

“We certainly welcome the break,” noted Briere. “I think a lot of guys are a little banged up and that’s a sign of being tired a little bit, so hopefully we’ll take those next four days and get re-energized again.”

Banged up or not, the Flyers are in a place unfamiliar to them last season. They sit atop the Atlantic Division with 14 points and a 7-3-0 record and with the team being on the road throughout most of the season, it has created a togetherness that Head Coach John Stevens wanted to focus on this year.

“We had a terrible year last year and the team didn’t stick together very well on or off the ice,” stated General Manager Paul Holmgren. “I think this year with the new faces and the commitment to fitness and what John and his coaching staff are trying to preach has been togetherness and sticking together through thick and thin and I like the way our team is sticking together right now both on and off the ice.”

Stevens, Holmgren Comment on Jones

A day after being issued a boarding major and game misconduct after the hit on Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, Flyers’ General Manager Paul Holmgren and Head Coach John Stevens commented on the incident.

“It was one of those plays where the puck got chipped in from the neutral zone, both players are getting to the puck carrying a lot of speed and Jones was just going in there to defend the play and the way they got to the wall there Bergeron ended up in a very vulnerable position,” said Stevens.

“Having talked to Jones, he was very upset about the whole thing.  I’ve had Randy for a long time, he’s as honest of a player out there and there’s a lot of integrity in his game and there was no other thoughts in his mind but defending the play.”

Club General Manager Paul Holmgren stated he has yet to hear from the League office, but wasn’t concerned about any of the past incidents that have occurred thus far.

“Absolutely not, those are separate from this for sure. They’re three totally separate incidents. Colin Campbell has a difficult job and we respect what he does and whatever happens, happens and we’ll deal with it.”
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