PHILADELPHIA – Before the game, assistant coach Ian Laperriere went on a local radio show and described the Flyers as a team “that never quits.”
After the 4-0 win over Pittsburgh, head coach Craig Berube called his team “composed.”
Sean Couturier said that now, more than ever, especially in these rivalry games, “there an edge” to the team with the way they play.
However you want to describe it, the Flyers have been building an identity under coach Craig Berube and that identity is one that can take them a long way.
The Flyers haven’t been garnering much in the way of attention, either on a national stage, or even here at home. Sure, the hardcore fan base knows what is going on with the Flyers around every turn, but I can’t help but shake my head every time someone asks me how the job’s going with a “mediocre” team.
The Flyers are far from mediocre. They’ve accrued 63.7 percent of available points over the span of 51 games. That’s nearly two-thirds of a season. If anything, they’ve been among the best stories of this season, overcoming a dreadful start to being in position to control their own destiny to earn home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.
And all the while, they’ve been putting this identity together.
But what is the identity to be exact?
Is it that of a team that is never out of a game? With a franchise record 11 wins when trailing in the third period and a league-leading seven wins when trailing after two periods, that is certainly one way of putting it.
Or, is it a team that once it gets a lead, hardly ever gives it up? After all, the Flyers are now 24-5-4 when scoring the first goal of a game. They are also 22-2-4 when leading after two periods and both of those regulation losses came in October.
The Flyers are good on special teams (top 12 in both categories), they have the most-balanced team scoring in the NHL (tied with Boston with seven or more players with 15-plus goals) and they have been getting solid goaltending all around, but specifically from Steve Mason, who registered his fourth shutout of the season against Pittsburgh.
So what’s that add up to as far as identities are concerned? How about that of a very good team who is playoff bound and might stick around longer than expected.
Not convinced yet?
Talk to me after the next 16 games and let me know if you’ve changed your mind.
NOTES: Today marked the Flyers’ first regular-season shutout of the Penguins since April 6, 2008 (Marty Biron) and just the fourth in the last 31 years. It’s the first time the Flyers have shut out the Penguins in the regular season with Sidney Crosby in the lineup (46 games)…Today’s game marked just the 10th time the Flyers held Crosby without a point… It was the Flyers’ first regulation win against the Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center since Dec. 8, 2011. Their one win in five games since then came in overtime on March 18, 2012 when Scott Hartnell scored with nine-tenths of a second remaining in OT… The Flyers took 71 total shot attempts towards net (40 on goal, 20 that were blocked and 11 that missed) to Pittsburgh’s 44 (25 on goal, 14 blocked, five missed)… The Flyers forced 14 Pittsburgh giveaways while only committing three giveaways themselves… Matt Read recorded his seventh career game of two goals or more and his fourth of this season. He led the Flyers with six shots on goal.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers