Flyers say turnaround better late than never

Wayne Simmonds

VOORHEES – The question that seems to be on everyone’s mind these days is: Where was this sort of play back in October when the Flyers got off to their terrible start?

Riding a seven-game winning streak heading into Monday night’s game against Vancouver, the Flyers were looking more and more like a confident bunch which should have come speeding out of the gate at season’s start.

Apparently it took about 45 games for everything to click.

“We sort of had the idea that we can stream together winning streaks like this from the start of the season,’’ Wayne Simmonds said after a Monday morning practice at the Skate Zone.

“Unfortunately, it hasn’t materialized that way. But we’re in one right now, so we have to continue.’’

To their credit, the Flyers didn’t quit when they got bogged down in an eight-game winless (0-6-2) skid in early January.

“We’re a resilient bunch, sometimes we get on the wrong side of things,’’ Simmonds said. “And we make it tough on ourselves. But it doesn’t mean we’re ever going to quit.

“I think that’s the mentality of this team, a never-say-die attitude. We’re always going to go after it.’’

>Better communication between coach and players

In Boston the other day, coach Scott Gordon said he’s made a more concerted effort to communicate with his players and define their roles.

The best player to talk about this is defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who played for Gordon when he was head coach of the New York Islanders some 10 years ago.

“In New York, there wasn’t a very diverse mix (of old and young),’’ MacDonald said. “Here, you can tell whether it’s on the ice or off the ice, he’s making that effort to talk to guys to check in.

“I mean it’s tough, you have 23-plus guys. Everyone’s going to be feeling different on any given day. I think it’s important to let guys know where they stand, one way or another.’’

A recent sitdown between Gordon and James van Riemsdyk has produced a rather startling offensive turnaround for the New Jersey native. He had seven goals in his last nine games prior to the Vancouver game.

It’s all about letting a player know where he stands and what he has to do to remain effective.

“When there’s no communication, you’re kind of just left there with your thoughts,’’ MacDonald said. “You don’t know where you stand or what you’re doing right or wrong.

“I think the coaching staff as a whole has done a good job of communicating with us. They’ll let us know what they’re expecting. What they like to see improve. Just checking in to see how guys are feeling.’’

>Power play improvement

Amazing how quickly a team’s power-play ranking can improve in the course of just a couple games.

The Flyers were 31st and dead last in the NHL going into Thursday night’s game against Boston.

They registered two power-play goals in that game and then four more (the most in one game since 2008) in the come-from-behind 5-4 win over Edmonton on Saturday.

Last week, general manager Chuck Fletcher said the Flyers’ power play was the unluckiest he had ever seen.

Well, maybe that luck is changing. Now they’re 23rd in the NHL, going from 13 percent up to 16.2 percent.

“In the process, we’re going about it the right way,’’ Simmonds said, “getting shots and stuff like that. We’re bearing down now, putting pucks in the back of the net.’’

>Vancouver presents a challenge

The Canucks handed the Flyers a 5-1 defeat at Vancouver back on Dec. 15 and two days later head coach Dave Hakstol was out of a job.

Vancouver has been playing some decent hockey and continues to challenge for a playoff spot.

“They’re young, they’ve got a ton of skill over there,’’ Simmonds said. “If you turn pucks over, they’re going to get you, go the other way.’’

>Overbrook School for the Blind to attend practice

After Wednesday’s practice at the Skate Zone, some students from the Overbrook School for the Blind will skate with players on the Flyers to practice their hockey skills with special noise-making pucks.

According to a Flyers’ press release, some of the students will be wearing hockey gear as they learn to play blind hockey.

Blind hockey came to the United States six years ago and there are now 10 established blind hockey programs in the country.

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About Wayne Fish 2451 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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