Flyers acknowledge urgency needed for upcoming stretch

Michal Neuvirth

VOORHEES, N.J. – Three games in four days at the start of January might not seem like a big deal – unless you’re the last-place Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers are approaching the halfway point in their season and know that if they don’t start making headway soon, it’s going to be difficult to chase a playoff spot down the stretch.

It starts Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center with a game against the Islanders, who have already beaten the Flyers twice.

Then comes a day game against St. Louis on Saturday and another matinee against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

If the Flyers can grab a bunch of points here, they can get themselves back in the hunt.

Or, they could really dig themselves a hole.

Goaltender Brian Elliott acknowledges the Flyers have to get it in gear now.

“It’s getting to that time where you have to do something or get off the pot,’’ he said after Wednesday’s practice at the Skate Zone. “We have to be there with determination.’’

The Flyers have shown flashes of strong play in a shootout loss to Columbus and a big win at Tampa. But they’ve followed those efforts with losses to Florida and Pittsburgh.

“Consistency is always the goal and consistently good, obviously,’’ said Elliott. “Not consistently the other way.

“That’s what it’s all about. It’s a mindset. It’s an attitude, a swagger that you have to have, especially at home; from my position out to everybody else. It has to come from everybody.’’

While the Flyers roster appears to have the making of a playoff contender, there’s still the matter of execution.

“Execution is a talent,’’ Elliott said. “You know we have to put everything together. Every line has to be going, every defenseman and the goalie every night. We can’t be passengers. You have to take the onus on yourself to go out there and do something, play your role and try to contribute in any way possible.

“If you’re not feeling it that night, you have to contribute in a different way.’’

Coach Dave Hakstol has made some changes in recent games, including the benching of defenseman Travis Sanheim and forward Taylor Leier.

Also, he lifted Elliott for the third period of the Pittsburgh game and inserted Michal Neuvirth, who saw his first action since a game against the San Jose Sharks way back on Nov. 28. It’s likely Neuvirth will see some action over the weekend with the back-to-back game situation.

Of immediate concern is a 1-1-4 record against the Metro Division. That’s what makes games like the one against the Islanders so important.

“When you look at our situation, the standings, the points and all of that, they (division games) are magnified,’’ Hakstol agreed. “We have to go out and do a good job in those games.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2473 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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