SUNRISE, Fla. – It happens in professional sports all the time.
A team gets rolling, playing really well, winning a lot of games in a short period of time. Confidence grows. Then, all of the sudden, a very fine line is crossed.
If you are not careful, confidence can quickly turn into overconfidence. And overconfidence can crate bad habits. And bad habits lead to mistakes. Mistakes lead to losses – even against what is perceived to be inferior opposition.
So, when the Flyers look back on the end of their seven-game point streak that came in a 3-1 loss to the scuffling Florida Panthers, it’ll be easy to identify the reason why.
“We didn’t go North enough,” said Scott Hartnell. “We were trying to make behind-the-back passes. It wasn’t just one line. It was all of us. We got distracted. Maybe we thought we were a better team and that we can come in here and it’ll be an easy game.
“If you underestimate your opponent in this league, you are going to get screwed and lose the game and we did just that.”
|The Panthers were all over the Flyers in the first two periods, like Nick Bjugstad here on Nick Grossmann, which caught the overconfident Flyers by surprise. |
It was the result of two subpar periods by the Flyers.
The first period wasn’t good, but at least they came away unscathed, with the game remaining scoreless.
The second period though is where things went awry.
After failing to score on a 5-on-3 that lasted 1:23, the Panthers seized momentum, and 29 seconds later, scored the game’s first goal, on a wraparound by Sean Bergenheim.
Later in the period, with Claude Giroux in the penalty box, Bergenheim tipped a Marcel Goc shot past Steve Mason, and it was 2-0.
It was a deficit the Flyers never thought they’d face against the Panthers, and yet they did, more so because they weren’t playing the right way, but a few players – not just Hartnell – admitted they might have taken the Panthers for granted.
That didn’t sit well with coach Craig Berube.
“I hope not,” he said. “Who are we to overlook anybody? We talked about it before the game this morning – about being ready. I’m not sure we were.”
With the exception of a backdoor chance for Wayne Simmonds in the first period and a wide open net chance on which Hartnell whiffed on the puck in the second, there was little, if anything the Flyers did well offensively in the first 40 minutes.
“I don’t think we were very good with our execution with the puck,” Berube said. “We turned it over too many times in the neutral zone. We were lackadaisical a little bit in my opinion… For me it’s about being prepared to battle and play the game… You should want to come in here and take it to this team. That should be your mindset.”
And it wasn’t… until the third period.
That’s when the Flyers brought the heat. And they were able to cut the Panthers lead in half temporarily when Wayne
|Even though he scored the lone Flyers goal, Wayne Simmonds and the rest of histeammates couldn't get a leg up on TIm Thomas and the Panthers. |
Simmonds scored a power play goal – the seventh straight game in which the Flyers have posted a man advantage tally.
And while they pushed and pushed to tie it, they couldn’t beat Tim Thomas a second time as he made 38 saves – 19 in the third period alone – to secure the win.
The Panthers got an insurance marker when Luke Schenn threw the puck up the wall intended for Erik Gustafsson on a clear, only to have it hit referee Tim Peel and stay in the zone where the Panthers were able to gain possession and set up Erik Gudbranson for a slapper from the point that hit Mason in the shoulder, popped up in the air, landed behind him and took an unfortunate bee line into the net.
It wasn’t Mason’s best game, but he was still solid enough to make 28 saves, and allow the Flyers to hang around when they were playing sloppily in front of him.
“In the third period we played our game,” Hartnell said. “The game we played in the last six or seven games when we were undefeated. But the first two periods was how we played the first 15 games – awful.”
The good news though, despite all the turnovers and the mistakes and the disjointed play, the Flyers were at least decent enough in their own end to hold Florida to three goals. It marked the 11th straight game(7-2-2) in which the Flyers allowed three goals or fewer. It’s only the 13th time in franchise history they have had a streak that long and the first time since a 14-game run in November, 2010.
Nevertheless, they missed an opportunity to leapfrog a couple teams and move into third place in the Metropolitan Division with both the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils losing Monday.
“It’s disappointing,” Berube said. “We want to win every game. We didn’t play 60 minutes tonight and that’s why we lost.”
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