The 12-game grind is over.
And while it ended with a thud – a 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins Saturday – it was more successful than anyone could have hoped for.
Garnering 14 points in those 12 games has to be looked at as a positive, even if the Flyers went 0-2-2 in the past four games.
Keep in mind that three of those four losses came against the two best teams in the NHL. Yes, the Columbus loss may have been disappointing, but the other three can’t be chalked up as bad losses.
The latest, Saturday, was a good effort against the big, bad Bruins. After all, this was a tie game until six minutes to play.
There were a couple of minor mistakes that you can get away with against most teams that you can’t get away with against the Bruins.
For example, David Krejci’s goal, the one that broke a scoreless tie late in the first period, came out of a three-on-three scrum in front of the net. The mistake? Not getting help from the other two forwards who were staying out by the point.
Also, Milan Lucic’s second goal came as a result of a missed shot on the other end of the ice by Zac Rinaldo. That shot came from the wing on the rush. If you shoot from there, it needs to be on goal because if not, it can create an odd man situation the other way and the Bruins pounced.
Aside from that though, other little flaws were masked by a fine effort in goal by Ray Emery. Emery kept the Flyers in the game until the offense could finally break out of their two-plus game doldrums on quick goals by Wayne Simmonds and Jay Rosehill.
Rosehill, who coach Craig Berube inserted into the lineup in place of Tye McGinn, made his coach look good with a fight and a goal – his first since Nov. 9.
But for the second straight game the third period – which has been the Flyers best period all season – failed the team as it sat back a bit too much.
Which brings us back to the schedule and the brutality of playing those 12 games against those 12 teams in the span of 21 days. It’s safe to say that the Flyers might be feeling some fatigue after traversing such an incredibly tough road.
Berube said that’s not an acceptable excuse, and you wouldn’t expect him to say anything else regarding that situation, but the reality is, the schedule is tough on the body for even the most elite athletes in the sport.
The Flyers magic number is down to five points – either earned by the Flyers or lost by Toronto and New Jersey. And now, the schedule lightens up a bit.
Buffalo tomorrow. Florida Tuesday. Tampa Thursday could be tough because the Lightning are fighting for home ice, but Pittsburgh next Saturday will mean a lot more to the Flyers than the Penguins who are playing out the regular season string now that they are locked into the No. 2 seed. Then Carolina in the finale.
The Flyers are not choking away the end of the season. They should be able to make the results turn back in their favor, and they could get some help before tomorrow’s game.
More than anything else, the Flyers need to use the next five games to get some of their mojo back and rebuild the momentum heading into the playoffs.
Because these losses haven’t been dreadful like they were earlier in the season. They were just a little bit off. It’s that fine line that you have to walk sometimes and the Flyers aren’t that far astray.
We saw it two weeks ago when they won five straight. It’s time to get back to that brand of hockey and the team realizes it.
I think we’ll have a much better impression of the team by mid-week.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers