October 16, 2013. An otherwise innocuous goal in the waning moments of a second period in which the Flyers were badly outplayed by their crosstown rivals. We may look back on this goal as the moment when the Flyers season began to turn around. While that goal cut the Penguins lead in half, it failed to pay immediate dividends as the Flyers went on to lose their seventh game in the season’s first eight games.
The goal, a deflection from Wayne Simmonds, did have a different kind of impact on the team. Dating back to last season, the Flyers have developed a disturbing trend for not playing 60 minutes of hockey and the frame in which they most frequently relent on intensity is the third period. On this night, the Flyers rebounded from an atrocious second period and carried the play most of the third period against a talented Pittsburgh team. In fact, the momentum was seemingly going to turn their way until a Braydon Coburn turnover allowed Sidney Crosby to put the game out of reach.
Many of the Flyers early season issues were evident in this game, but now the team had six days off in which to work on new head coach Craig Berube’s system. They also had time to work on conditioning, which appears to be a major factor in the teams lackluster play for large stretches of games. With the exception of Saturday and Sunday, the Flyers practiced every off day. One day was entirely spent on conditioning drills.
With such a long break between games, it became a mini training camp of sorts and it couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s always difficult to transition to a new coaches style in-season. This break has given the Flyers an opportunity to learn, practice, and study the new system, as well as give the players time to build the mental toughness it will take to develop a winning attitude before the season spirals out of control.
On Thursday, the Flyers second season starts with a home game versus the equally ignominious New York Rangers. It is a chance for the team to hit the reset button and show that they have what it takes to make 2013-2014 a successful season in South Philadelphia. It is clear this will not be a quick turnaround, but there are still 76 games left in the season. That’s plenty of time to stem the tide. This team has too much talent not to be playing at a higher level.
The Flyers round out the third week of the season with a Saturday game out on long Island, then return home to face another Western Conference team, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. This week is a soft landing spot for the Flyers and could go a long way in building their confidence as a team.
On The Fly:
- The Flyers are the first team since 1964 (Prior to the original expansion) to not score at least three goals in the first eight games of the season.
- Claude Giroux has now recorded a point in three straight games.
- Vincent Lecavalier (Lower Body Injury) is expected to return to the lineup tomorrow night against the New York Rangers.
- Scott Hartnell is still a few weeks away from returning to the lineup after sustaining an upper body injury.
- Former Flyers netminder Marty Biron announced his retirement after being waived by the New York Rangers.