Flyers will stay the course, trust the system

Carter Hart

The results might not be there yet but the Flyers say they aren’t going to change much in their approach to games.

Just 2-5 in their last seven games and coming off three home losses to Washington sandwiched around a desperate win over the last-place Buffalo Sabres, the Flyers head to the Big Apple for a pair of two-game sets against the Rangers and Islanders.

Flyers coach Alain Vigneault made headlines by his comments after Saturday night’s 5-4 defeat by the Caps, stating his team has been trending in the right direction.

On Sunday, Vigneault reiterated he’s satisfied with his team’s battle level – and if they continue to play hard, good things will happen.

“We can’t play a perfect game,’’ Vigneault said during a media Zoom call after Sunday’s practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. “But we are preparing ourselves the right way.

“The players are competing and battling. You just have to stick with that. If you do that, I’m a real believer things are going to fall into place.’’

The immediate task won’t be easy.

First, the Rangers are coming off a 4-0 rare shutout win over the Bruins in Boston. And the Islanders are the hottest team in the NHL having won eight straight.

“Right now the results aren’t going our way,’’ Vigneault said. “We have a group of guys, good teammates that play hard for one another.

“There are things we like about our game yesterday (Saturday). We’re going to show our team (on video) a couple little areas (of concern) tomorrow morning and we’re going to be ready for the Rangers.’’

The last 10 games the Flyers are second in shots taken and third-best in shots allowed. Is this proof positive that good things are on the horizon?

“I’ve been saying that a lot lately but the results aren’t there,’’ Vigneault said. “It’s hard for anyone to believe that I’m making sense – but I do believe we’re trending the right way.

“Sometimes you go through some of these stretches that are challenging for your team and the character of our group. We have to respond the right way.’’

>Hart gets a start

Carter Hart, who finished up for Elliott on Saturday night, will start against the Rangers. He’s been working diligently with goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh.

“It’s been good,’’ Hart said. “Got a lot of work in here with him on the ice. It was good to slow things down a little bit. Get back to the basics and get some good detailed work in.’’

>Save percentages down

The Flyers have been giving up goals in bunches and the save percentages of both Hart and Elliott have been dropping.

Is that on the goalies, the defense or both?

“Our save percentage is down in the last couple weeks,’’ Vigneault said. “Our players playing in front of both our goalies are trying to do the right thing. Carter and Brian, confidence-wise, are not where they can be when they’re on top of their game.

“It’s important we don’t compound everything, (don’t) bring the last game to the game that is in front of you. . .and don’t try and play that perfect game. We have to trust our goalies are going to find their game.’’

>Patrick confidence growing

Nolan Patrick broke a 17-game scoring drought with a goal against the Caps, this just two games after he scored a big goal in the shootout to put away Buffalo.

Patrick, who missed all of last season due to a chronic migraine headache disorder, said he knew it was going to be tough coming back this season but it’s just a matter of staying patient.

“Obviously it’s nice to get out of that (slump),’’ Patrick said. “It’s nothing I wanted to go through. It’s nice to get back on the board.

“I knew it was going to be difficult missing all the time I did,’’ he said. “And with this season’s format, no preseason to get ready and the tight schedule, I knew it was going to be a challenge. I’m getting more confident now, feeling better about my game.’’

>Giving Giroux an occasional breather

Claude Giroux, who turned 33 in January, has seen his ice time trimmed a bit recently and that’s not by accident.

Vigneault wants to make sure he doesn’t wear Giroux down with too much work, given the hectic schedule.

“We have so many games in front of us, you have to be able to spread the ice time so that you have the energy,’’ Vigneault said. “It’s no different than anybody.

“We practiced today and the next time I feel we’re going to practice is two Fridays from now (March 26). You have to monitor your players, monitor their load, their energy level. Some guys have more in the tank than others. Claude is no different than some of the other guys. You just try to put them in the right situations where they can have the most success.’’

>Raffl practices

Michael Raffl (hand injury) practiced for the first time on Sunday. Vigneault said Raffl will be a game-time decision for the Rangers game.

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About Wayne Fish 2070 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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