After being chewed out by GM Paul Holmgren, the Flyers needed to respond with the kind of intensity that he and everyone else has been asking for. Though they didn’t play a bad game, they didn’t maintain that competitiveness, and it showed with a 4-3 overtime loss.
The Flyers have the talent to be able to bury a team like the Sabres if they play at the top of their game for even a period or two.
Unfortunately, this isn’t something the Flyers are able to do.
After establishing a 1-0 lead in the first, a pair of early second period goals for the Sabres forced the Flyers to play catch-up. But the Flyers proved they could keep pace just as well.
Kris Versteeg and Danny Briere each beat goaltender Jhonas Enroth. Going into the third, Enroth was pulled in favor of Sabres’ star Ryan Miller.
Miller stopped a few shots, but once the Sabres tied the game in the third, each team simply held on until overtime where Buffalo won it.
The Flyers show impressive moments, glimmers of hope, but then return to a game that, while above-average, isn’t the play of a would-be first place team and Cup contender.
Once again, it’s not a case of them not playing a good game, but simply not playing with desperation.
I’ll continue to say it – this team just needs the playoffs to reinvigorate them.
Once the reality of the postseason sets in, they’ll wake up and rediscover the game that carried them to first place earlier this season, or to the Cup Finals last Spring.
If that flip switches early enough, the Flyers will likely make short work of their first round opponent, and perhaps even tear through a potential second round foe – but if it flips even one game too late, they may well be buried in the first round.
It’s a fine line the Flyers are walking here, but they have the kind of team that should be able to handle it. And if they fail to, then maybe they just weren’t cut out for it after all.
Getting the extra point out of this loss ties the Flyers with the Penguins for the Atlantic lead. With Philadelphia holding the tiebreaker, their destiny is in their hands. A win Saturday or a Penguins’ loss, and the Flyers will keep their 2nd seed and face the Sabres or the Canadiens.
Otherwise, they’ll fall to the fourth spot and face the Tampa Bay Lightning.
None of those opponents seem like particularly dangerous ones to a Flyers team at the top of its game, but any of them could take advantage of this team the way it’s currently playing.
Will they flip the switch in time?