(San Jose, CA, November 19) – Despite the fact that their four-game road trip did not end with a victory, the Flyers will look to build off of their wins in Anaheim and Los Angeles as they return to Philadelphia for a stretch of four home games out of the next five.
After dropping the first game in Pittsburgh to the Penguins, the Flyers had two eye-opening victories in consecutive nights. They defeated a team that had just one regulation loss all season in the Anaheim Ducks, 7-4 on Wednesday, and then scored three late goals in staging a 4-3 comeback victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.
A 6-1 loss at San Jose was certainly not the perfect ending to the trip, but going 2-2 on the road is a start in the right direction.
"If you finish the season and you're above .500 on the road it's a good indication," said John Stevens after Saturday's game. "When you go on the road and win two, you don't want to take that for granted. You want to put those two wins in your pocket.
"We thought we got some good things accomplished in Anaheim and L.A."
If anything, the Flyers have showed that they can play with some of the top teams lately. The Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo Sabres needed overtime to beat the Flyers in the team's last home game on November 11. Pittsburgh, which beat the Flyers 8-2 earlier this season, broke a tie last Sunday with a goal late in regulation to win 3-2.
Even despite the 6-1 final in San Jose, the team still believes it can play with anyone if they are on their game and play a complete 60 minutes.
"I don't know if I can say [San Jose] is that much better. Obviously [Saturday] they played a lot better than us over the course of the game. I may be crazy but I feel if we played our best game we can play right with them," said Derian Hatcher. "That's how I honestly feel."
"We have to realize what we did well in Anaheim and L.A. The young guys played great in those games," said Peter Forsberg. "We can play pretty good hockey, and we just have to make sure we're doing it for 60 minutes and not in spurts. If we play consistently we can win every game."
Mike Knuble agrees that the Flyers have showed signs lately of improvement but they still have to win the majority of their games to climb in the standings.
"I think we can be proud of what we did on this trip, but the bottom line is we are still in last place," he said. "I don't think any of us are happy to end this trip at .500 because you didn't really gain any ground. For us to have a chance, we have to be playing .700 or .750 hockey the rest of the year, and come out of a trip like this 3-1 and not 2-2."
The home stretch will begin on Monday when the team hosts the Penguins at the Wachovia Center (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, 610 WIP). How the Flyers respond in that game will go a long way in how they view the results of this trip, according to Hatcher.
"Going 2-2 is not a bad trip. It wasn't. It's how we respond Monday," he said. "If we come out Monday night and have a great game and get two points, all of a sudden this road trip is not bad. I think when you have a .500 road trip it comes down to how you do at home. If we can come out Monday and play great, it's not a bad trip."
"We have a good home stretch now and we just have to make sure we take advantage of that," added Forsberg.