PHILADELPHIA – Kimmo Timonen tells it like it is.
He doesn’t mince words. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He doesn’t beat around the bush.
He’s as straight a shooter as there is – and he gave the straight dope behind the Flyers woebegone 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers Thursday.
“I don’t usually make up excuses,” Timonen said. “I’m usually straightforward, but you saw a tired Flyers team today. We came back from a six-game road trip, we played a hard-charged game yesterday and got the two points, we didn’t get in until 2 a.m. We were tired today.”
And it was evident from the opening draw. The Flyers lacked spunk. They lacked drive and determination.
Oh, sure you could see them trying – the effort was there, but sometimes the mind and the body just don’t jive.
“You try to prepare yourself and tell yourself that everything is fine and everything is o.k. and we’re ready to go and we’re absolutely fine,” said Ilya Bryzgalov, who was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on just 15 shots. “But sometimes you step on the ice and maybe everybody starts to feel differently.”
And that’s pretty much what happened to the Flyers.
The Panthers scored two goals 29 seconds apart in the first period, and then Jonathan Huberdeau, the 19-year-old sensation for the Panthers, scored on a penalty shot to make it three goals in two minutes – and that was it for the Flyers just 10 minutes into the game.
“I’ve seen this happen a hundred times,” said Mike Knuble. “You win a big emotional game and then you come out the next night and you don’t have that same urgency. You spend a lot of energy paying attention to detail the night before and then you come out and let a couple guys get behind us and give up a penalty shot – you’re leaving a lot on your goalie right out of the gate.
“You got to be better than that and play a more simple game. It becomes more of a mind game that second game as far as being prepared. Yesterday’s game was all about emotion today’s game was all about using your mind and try to get it going in the right direction. “
Huberdeau scored his second goal of the game - and finished with four points total – on a second period power play. It was that goal that chased Bryzgalov, and all but put a damper on the game overall.
The Flyers were able to muster a couple goals in the third period as Luke Schenn scored on a slapper from the point through a Wayne Simmonds screen and Jake Voracek stayed hot on the scoresheet with another goal, his seventh of the season, but it was too little too late for the Flyers (8-10-1, 17 points), who missed out on an opportunity to reach the .500 mark for the fifth time this season.
“The game last night was hard fought,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “We came back, we want to prepare and get ourselves in a situation to win another hockey game and it was an important game tonight. It was evident in the first ten minutes that [we] weren’t as sharp, we weren’t as crisp as we were last night.
“Once the game got going, we didn’t make a lot of mistakes early on, the ones we made they were kind of point blank and they cashed in on them so we found ourselves down 3-0 in there. I think when you’re put that 3-0 in there, the guys just kept trying, they kept pressing, there were opportunities to score goals, we couldn’t seem to get that first one early enough in the game to climb back in and gain some momentum from it.”
So, the Flyers were tired. Spent from the end of a grueling opening third of the schedule that saw 12-of-18 on the road and six pairs of games on consecutive nights.
Maybe this time the Flyers can take a Mulligan.
Then again… maybe not.
“There’s no doubt that this is a frustrating one and a tough one to lose after all the effort we put in yesterday,” said Danny Briere. “Everything we fought for yesterday, to come out today and have a game like this – we talked about coming out strong and playing hard, but it was mental mistakes that did us in today.
“All day we talked about getting ready for this game and being prepared, but we need to find a way to get up. Everyone was aware, but we didn’t execute the plays we were supposed to… we knew exactly what we had in front of us and that it was going to be an uphill battle from the start… I don’t think it was physical, it was mentally that we lagged behind.”
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