It wasn’t a perfect win, it wasn’t a pretty win, it wasn’t a “sixty minute” win – but a win’s a win, and this team was desperate for one coming into Tuesday night’s match up against the Edmonton Oilers.
With the day off to rest and regroup, the Flyers returned to the ice last night needing a win, and expecting one against an overall inferior Oilers team.
Whatever happened in the sixty minutes of hockey between the drop of the puck and the final horn doesn’t matter, the Flyers came out on top with a 4-1 win and two more points in the standings
Not everyone in the locker room was happy about the way they played, and it’s hard to blame them. You talk about playing sixty minutes – starting strong and ending strong. The Flyers may have managed half that.
But going forward, they’ll look back and remember the things they did right, and attempt to repeat them for an entire game. This game accomplished what it needed to do – it gave them something to build on.
Danny Briere called last night a “step in the right direction.”
“We needed to find our mojo back, I guess … The first period, we came out strong and we showed them,” he said. “We showed in the first period, once again, that when we play all out we can be dominating, so it was definitely a step in the right direction I thought.”
For at least twenty minutes in the first, the Flyers were simply dominant. They hustled to pucks, made the right plays, and finished them, picking up two goals while outshooting the Oilers 17-1.
Danny Briere notched his first since February 16th – his third since the All-Star break. Jeff Carter picked up two on the night and Blair Betts finished it off with an empty netter.
Those twenty minutes give the Flyers a blueprint to follow to play good, solid hockey – something they’ve forgotten over the last few games.
It’s easier said than done, but it’s as simple as keeping this first period in mind and emulating it for the full sixty minutes.
Matt Carle recognized the team’s imperfections, but said that no team can ever play a perfect game and that he was just happy to get the win.
“I don’t think we’ve played a perfect game. I don’t think we ever will. Certainly it was a step in the right direction for us,” he said. “It was good to get off the losing schnide and just try to take whatever momentum we can and stay positive going in to face a tough team in Toronto.”
The win could have been better, but right now, facing what could have been a five game losing streak against teams that they should have beaten, the Flyers are simply going to take what they can get and move on.
Jeff Carter picked up two on the night to reach 31 on the season – the first Flyer to break 30 goals – and Blair Betts finished it off with an empty netter as Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 24 of 25 shots.
Pronger disgusted with team’s effort
Despite the win, the Flyers locker room was not a happy place to be after the game Tuesday night. Before reporters even got into the room, Chris Pronger could be heard yelling through the team’s heavy, metal locker room doors.
As the media filed in, he wrapped up his conversation and disapeared into the back of the locker room.
But his bottom line was very clear, both to his teammates and the media: the Flyers need to stop turning the puck over.
“I think there’s winning and then there’s winning in spite of how you play,” Pronger said when he reentered the room to meet with the media.
After out-shooting the Oilers 17-1 in the first period, the Flyers found themselves in a lull, reverting back to some of the same sloppy hockey that’s haunted them over the last week and a half. While Pronger sees some good things to build on, he is certainly far from calling Tuesday night a complete performance.
“[We played] probably 23 or 24 good minutes the way we need to play to be successful,” Pronger said. “But if you look at the latter part of the second and probably the last 12 or 14 minutes of that third period, we were sitting back, standing still, turning pucks over and they just came at us wave after wave.”
Pronger’s Stanley Cup experience speaks for itself, and the team wise-guy meant nothing but business Tuesday night. The message was unmistakable — half-hearted, 20 minute efforts may get you two points against injury-plagued, bottom of the league teams, but if you want to take a shot at the cup you have to find a way to put together a full 60 minutes of hockey.
Peter Laviolette says that Pronger’s assessment is “fair” and agrees that with a lead, the team got away from the style he is trying to institute.
“He is correct about the turnovers. We lost our speed and turned the puck over by trying to be too cute. We played a different game in the first period and really took control. They changed their game a bit and started to pressure a little more, so the turnovers happened but there are a lot of unforced turnovers that we don’t need to make.”
Pronger said himself, “sometimes talk is cheap,” but hopefully the big man’s message got through to the team. Plain and simple, the Flyers aren’t going to see a whole lot of two point games if they put in an effort like Tuesday’s.
But, a win is a win. And most of all, that was what the Flyers needed.
Shay Roddy contributed to this report.