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FLIGHT DELAY

Flyers don't take off against Carolina, and drop a sluggish game 3-2.

Thursday, 01.23.2014 / 12:01 AM / News
By Jay Greenberg  - philadelphiaflyers.com
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FLIGHT DELAY
Six p.m. might as well have been 11 a.m. the way the Flyers started Wednesday night. And Craig Berube felt there was snow reason for it.\r\n\r\n\u201CIt is what is,\u201D said the coach, who had not set a practice Tuesday following a Monday afternoon game on Long Island, then, after the postponed game was scheduled for an hour earlier than usual, decided not to skate the Flyers Wednesday morning. \u201CYou have to get through it.\r\n\r\n\u201CTo me, it\u2019s mental.\u201D

PHILADELPHIA -- Six p.m. might as well have been 11 a.m. the way the Flyers started Wednesday night. And Craig Berube felt there was snow reason for it.

“It is what is,” said the coach, who had not set a practice Tuesday following a Monday afternoon game on Long Island, then, after the postponed game was scheduled for an hour earlier than usual, decided not to skate the Flyers Wednesday morning. “You have to get through it.

“To me, it’s mental.”

It looked physical, the way the Hurricanes turned on the jets and left the Flyers wearing galoshes, appearing a lot

Jake Voracek and the rest of the Flyers couldn't get much going on offense against Carolina, losing to the Canes for the third time this season.

more inferior than the closeness of their 3-2 loss suggested. But while an additional Mark Howe or two surely would be welcome on the 2013-14 Black and Orange, we will not so fast to jump to any conclusions about the Flyers being overmatched night after night in the speed department.

The puck always has moved faster than even did Yvan Cournoyer. The Flyers, so quick to give it away in their own zone or just dump to center all Wednesday evening, really appeared more sluggish than they did speed-challenged. For all of Carolina’s quickness, it still trails Philadelphia by five points in the Metropolitan Division standings.

“[The Hurricanes] are fast, but I don’t think there is a matchup problem,” said Berube. “When you play a fast team you have to do things quick and have support and make plays.

“The way we were moving the puck tonight, that wasn’t going to happen. “

The Flyers, giving it away under both good pressure and no pressure, managed three first-period shots on goal while Alexander Semin was nailing one out of Andrej Meszaros feet and inside the far post on Steve Mason for a 1-0 lead.

Just when it looked like the Flyers finally were starting to gain a little traction in the second period, Luke Schenn fanned on a Sean Couturier pass back to the point and Nathan Gerbe soloed for a circus shot, faking going to his backhand, then shooting the puck between his legs on the forehand.

It was a tip-your-cap kind of goal, even if Schenn on that that particular one wore the dance cap.

“You see that more in shootouts, when there is no back pressure,” said Mason. “Give [Gerbe] credit.”

Actually, Schenn’s misplay nevertheless, give the defense credit for keeping a semblance of order in the Flyers’ end, enabling them to mount their standard comeback. Giroux made two plays off the wall, one to set up his own bank shot after circling the net, the other to feed Scott Hartnell’s game-tying rebound three minutes into the third period.

It was 2-2 and the joint jumping for all of about 20 seconds until the Flyers resumed doing practically the same nothing that they had been for two periods.

“They were cycling it on us for minutes on end,” said Hartnell. “Give them credit, they looked like an all star team out there, quick and fast and strong and we were the exact opposite.

“You play hockey like that, you are going to get whooped.

In the long run, usually. In the short run, when you are getting strong goaltending and little else, you try to hang on to salvage another point out of another lukewarm performance. But Jake Voracek, fortunate to still have a February and March to this season after getting slashed on the hand Monday in Uniondale, lost his stick, and Michael Raffl mindlessly poked the puck out of a standoff behind the Flyers goal and up the boards.

There wasn't a lot to celebrate for the Flyers, but Claude Giroux's goal did get the Flyers back in the game for a short period of time.

Mason picked up Andrej Sekera’s point shot late and Jiri Tlusty easily converted the rebound winner on a goalie who played his best game since the Flyers went 5-1 on the holiday road trip.

Since then they have gone 3-3-2, so it could be worse, but assuredly things will get that way unless the Flyers start playing more of the 60 minutes every game.

“I thought we had a good start on Long Island,” said Berube, but thanks to too many penalties the Flyers again had a bad finish, once more for lack of enough attack to keep the puck out of their own end .

Because the Brayden Schenn-Wayne Simmonds-Hartnell line remains productive, Berube says he has been reluctant to move Vinny Lecavalier back into his comfort zone in the middle and move Schenn to the wing. But sooner if not later, the priority has to become putting an expensive veteran in a position where he can be productive.

That said, in these consecutive losses, finish has not been the Flyers problem, more getting the puck through the middle and to the net.

After the second period, Giroux told Steve Coates the Flyers performance was embarrassing for a home game. And when it was over, the short-lived comeback hadn’t changed the captain’s mind.

“There was no energy the whole game,” Giroux said. “We didn’t get in our forecheck, didn’t make plays, didn’t look like we had any confidence.

“That’s how we were playing at the start of the year.”

It’s not that bad because this Giroux, who also made two plays Saturday night to salvage your basic one-period effort in the first of the home-and-home with the Islanders, bears no resemblance to the Giroux of the bad old days of October.

He could use some more help though, starting tonight in Columbus.

To contact Jay Greenberg, email jgreenberg@comcast-spectacor.com

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYI 63 41 20 2 202 174 84
3 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 61 30 22 9 161 160 69
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 62 25 27 10 139 164 60
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 60 23 30 7 137 159 53
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 62 19 45 4 64
C. Giroux 61 18 41 2 59
W. Simmonds 62 24 18 -2 42
M. Streit 62 8 32 -4 40
B. Schenn 62 12 23 -3 35
S. Couturier 62 12 14 -2 26
M. Del Zotto 50 7 17 -7 24
M. Read 62 5 18 -9 23
M. Raffl 47 13 3 4 16
V. Lecavalier 44 7 9 -9 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 11 13 7 .925 2.26
R. Emery 10 10 4 .893 3.15
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