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Not much holiday cheer around Flyers, Rangers

by Phil Coffey /
Now what?

The slumping Flyers, losers of 10 of 12 games heading into Monday night's game in Boston, already have made a coaching change, inserting Peter Laviolette for John Stevens. So, where do the Flyers go from here?

Chris Pronger suggests some soul searching.

"We need to bear down and take a look in the mirror," Pronger said after the Flyers dropped a one-sided 4-1 decision to the New Jersey Saturday night. "No one is going to help us get out of this. It's got to come from inside this locker room.

"At the end of the day, you have to find a way to become victorious in those tight games and right now, we're not. We're finding a way to lose them and that's the problem. Winning is the name of the game here. Winning is fun and everything else (stinks)."

In a lot of cases, teams get a jump after a coaching change, but that hasn't been the case in Philadelphia, where the flyers are 1-4-0 under Laviolette heading into Boston Monday.

"I've seen us take steps in the way we want to play the game like when we beat the Islanders (on Dec. 8)," Laviolette told's Mike Morreale. "I thought we played a hard game against Ottawa, but were just missing that final attack to the net. We showed signs, but showing signs just isn't good enough right now.

"You have to win hockey games and it doesn't matter how -- we have to put ourselves into a position to get into the playoffs, qualify for home ice and compete for the Stanley Cup."

"I don't think we're that bad, but we're getting there if we don't start looking in the mirror and coming with an attitude each and every day to the rink," Pronger said. "Whether it's game day or not, you have to come with the attitude you want to work, prepare properly and execute in practice from pregame skate and then the game.

"We need to focus on what we could do within the structure of what the coaching staff has put into place within our skill set and go out, execute and play well to our abilities," he continued. "Right now, it's one or two little mistakes that are costing us games and if we can sure those up, we'll be on the winning side of things."

Now what? Part II -- There isn't a lot of Christmas cheer around the New York Rangers either these days. Wins have been tough to come by and New York's 14-15-2 record is very sobering after the Rangers' 7-1-0 start to the season, with only one victory in the last seven games.

A shorthanded goal by the Sabres' Patrick Kaleta at 9:30 of the second period was the game-winner and a dagger to the Rangers' hopes against Buffalo.

"Our power play was working early, and you get one scored on you like that with the way we are struggling to be consistent offensively it's just a kick in the teeth," coach John Tortorella said.

The Rangers have now scored two goals or less in their last five games, going 1-3-1. In their last 19 games, the Rangers have scored two goals or less in 15 games.

"We just need to make one play, an offensive play," Tortorella said. "We're stuck at 2."

"The first period was a strong one," Wade Redden told reporters. "But at the end of the night, we are sitting here looking at a tight game and a loss. You can say you are close, right there, but at the end of the night, there is something we have to do a little more to get the job done."

"I know we haven't been scoring that much and I know we can't afford to let in too many goals," goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "I know that. You don't want to think, 'I can't let in a goal.' You have to think, 'I'm going to make the next save.' It's a big difference in the way you think.

"I mean, I try to stick to my game plan and not get too involved in what the guys are doing in front of me," Lundqvist said. "I think everybody is trying to figure out how to play better and how to help the team. The best thing I can do is focus on my game and try to play as good as possible."

One at a time -- Since tying Terry Sawchuk's mark of 103 regular-season shutouts, Martin Brodeur has allowed 7 goals in three games, winning two. Brodeur says moving past Sawchuk isn't a primary focus.

"If I start doing that, I'll make myself crazy," Brodeur said of focusing too much of the record. "It's going to happen when it's going to happen. I know it's fresh now. It's been three games since I tied (Terry Sawhchuk). So, maybe after 15, 20 games we won't talk about it and it will happen."

Calling his shot -- Friday, Evgeni Malkin predicted he would end a slump by getting on the scoreboard against the Florida Panthers. It took him until overtime to do it, but you don't hear any Pittsburgh Penguins complaining.

Malkin's power-play goal in overtime gave the Pens a 3-2 win over the Panthers. The goal ended a five-game drought for Malkin and got the Pens' power play off a 0-for-5 skid.

"I know how tough it is to not score for five or six games," Malkin said. "I stayed focused and didn't get nervous."

"(On Thursday) Geno gets eight shots in a game and doesn't get a goal," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Tonight, he gets a big goal for us and a game-winner in overtime, so hopefully it's a springboard for him.

"I think you saw us squeezing our sticks a little bit more on the power play, and sometimes you need a goal to release that," Bylsma told Jason Seidling of the team's Web site. "We were pretty happy to see that slap shot go in."

Not surprisingly, Sidney Crosby figured in the winner, winning a draw back to Malkin to key the winning sequence.

"Sid made a good play on the faceoff to win it," Malkin said. "I passed to (Sergei Gonchar) and got open. He gave me a good pass and I fired a good shot."

Crosby said it was only a matter of time until Malkin struck because he had been playing well heading into action against Florida.

"He is playing good hockey," Crosby said. "The puck hasn't been going in as much but tonight he had some great chances and set up some great chances. It was really nice to see him get that chance and bury it."

Getting the hang of it -- New York Islanders players, coaches and fans well remember the frustration that was the early part of the season when game after game slipped away in overtime or the shootout. That's why Saturday's 3-2 overtime win over the Boston Bruins was so satisfying.

Frans Nielsen did the damage, scoring just 24 seconds into OT, making a winner of goalie Dwayne Roloson, who certainly was deserving of the "W."

"We didn't have a good (third) period, for sure," Nielsen told's John Kreiser. "Rollie came up big for us. That shows what it means to have a good goalie -- even when you have those minutes in a game where you're being pushed back, he comes up with the big save for us."

Isles coach Scott Gordon said he originally didn't see who was going in on the breakaway, but was relieved when he saw it was Nielsen, one of the team's best one-on-one players.

"When I saw the '51 (Nielsen's number),' I'm like, 'This is going in,'" he said. "He excels in that area."

The victory ended a three-game losing streak for the Islanders.

"Record-wise, it's huge for us," Gordon said. "They're a top team in the League, and how they've been playing in the last 11 games. It's certainly their best game against us -- and it's probably a little payback from the first game (a 4-3 shootout loss in Boston) where we felt we deserved the two points."

Around the Atlantic -- There is some good news for the Rangers. Brandon Dubinsky is close to returning from a broken right hand. He has missed 13 games since being injured on Nov. 7 against the Calgary Flames. … Devils rookie Niclas Bergfors showed his stuff with his brother and family visiting from Sweden Saturday night, scoring twice in a 4-1 win over Philadelphia. "It's his first time coming over here in four years," Bergfors told Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger. Henrik Bergfors was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2001. Bergfors is on pace to have one of the most successful rookie seasons in New Jersey history. He already has 11 goals and the rookie mark is 21. … The Penguins are finally healthy again, using their full lineup for the first time Saturday against Florida. Nine regulars has missed time over the course of the team's 32 games, including five defensemen - and as many as six players at once were missing from the Penguins' projected lineup. "It's nice to have the whole group here back at it," Sidney Crosby said. "When guys come back sometimes it takes time, but we're a pretty familiar group of guys here." … Rob Schremp, who the Islanders picked up on waivers from Edmonton before the season, scored his first NHL goal against the Bruins Saturday night.

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