PHILADELPHIA – The time for talking a good game publicly is over.
No longer can the Flyers use words as the crutch that promises better days ahead. No longer can they just be a team that speaks positively in order to convince themselves that good times are ahead.
After a 3-0 loss to New Jersey at the Wells Fargo Center, the only thing the Flyers can do now to convince anyone – including themselves – that there is still time for reclamation, is to score goals and win games.
That’s it. That simple… or it should be.
Instead, scoring has been a challenge. A mere 22 goals in 15 games has made the Flyers the bottom-ranked offensive team in the NHL.
Imagine two months ago, when the excitement for the season was burgeoning at the start of training camp, believing the Flyers strength would be their goaltending and their weakness would be their offense, and even more specifically, their power play.
No one would have bought it. Las Vegas wouldn’t have taken odds on it.
And yet, here we are, with the goalies playing well and the offense taking a powder.
The Power play is the most perplexing. It was the best in the sport a season ago. Now, with the same players running it, it’s the worst.
“The power play was outworked tonight,” coach Craig Berube said. “That can’t happen.”
“I think there are some games where you can go back and the power play looked good and the puck just didn’t go in. But on a consistent, nightly basis you have to outwork the penalty killing of the other team and you have to create momentum for your team, and they did not do that tonight.”
There were a lot of things they didn’t do against New Jersey.
Scoring was probably most noticeable, but aside from the malaise of the man advantage, the Flyers were losing battles along the wall all night. The physical battles that come from playing a game along the boards have to be won more than they are lost if a team is going to have success playing that style. And there’s a reason the Flyers were shutout for the second straight home game.
The one thing they did do was have a closed door, players only, team meeting after the game. It ran for about 15 minutes. Things were said. Grievances were aired. It was the kind of talk that you hope turns things around.
Whether it will work or not is another story entirely.
“We want to stick together,” said Hal Gill, who has become a go-to guy in the locker room for analysis ever since being inserted into the lineup last Saturday. “We talked about some things. We know it’s a long season and there is plenty of time for us to turn things around but it’s got to be now. It’s got to be the next game. We need to find a way to get points and to keep moving forward.
“Like I said we can’t sit there and pout. No one out there really cares about it but we in the locker room we care and we have to find a way to turn it around.”
Their first chance will come Saturday against the lowly Edmonton Oilers. And at that point they have to prove talk is cheap and results are all that matter.
“We know what we did wrong, and we’re trying to address what we’re doing wrong,” Wayne Simmonds said. “When things aren’t going for you, you tend to look for the extra play. But when things are going for you, you just throw things at the net and you get bounces, whether it’s off other teams’ skates and sticks, you know the dirty goals. I think that’s where we have to start, it all starts in practice tomorrow, I think we have to come to practice tomorrow and we have to stop in front of the net and bury every puck we can.”
Sounds good, now do it.
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