PHILADELPHIA – For a team struggling to put even two wins together these days, the Flyers still sound pretty sure of themselves.
It’s been one long Ides of March this month, with a lack of defense headlining the list of woes.
Going into Tuesday night’s game against New Jersey the Flyers had surrendered a staggering 52 goals in a dozen games this month, one of the worst goals-allowed ratios in the NHL for that time span.
Justin Braun was asked if he believes the Flyers still have legitimate playoff hopes.
Since the Flyers began the night just a couple points out of a playoff spot, a positive answer seemed reasonable.
“I think we’re still a playoff team,’’ the defenseman said in a pre-game media Zoom call from the Wells Fargo Center. “Some of the games we’ve put together have been really good, we just haven’t found that consistency and if we find that consistency, we have the ability to stay with anyone.’’
Braun pointed out the Flyers really didn’t find their rhythm last season until the start of 2020 and then put together a nine-game winning streak just before the start of the pandemic in mid-March.
“You know we had a tough start to the year last year,’’ he said. “We found our game toward January. We have a little shorter runway this year. Teams always have tough stretches, it’s how you come out of it by that night-in, night-out effort.’’
Along those same lines, the Flyers finished last season with an admirable plus-36. This season, that rating has plunged all the way to minus-12 through Monday’s action.
The Flyers are the only team among the top six in the NHL’s East Division with a red number. Not a digit that represents success.
How can things improve in the second half of this shortened season?
“It starts in the D-zone,’’ Braun said. “Quicker to pucks, harder in front of our net. It’s small details that turn into big problems – boxing out, hitting sticks, making clean plays out of the zone.
“We haven’t been as crisp that way this year as we have in the past. We’ve had stretches of it but night-in, night-out, that’s what we have to do to win in this league.’’
>Vigneault stays with lineup
For the first time since the opening two games of the season, coach Alain Vigneault went with the exact same lineup as the previous game (except the goalie position because of back-to-back games).
“In our estimation, we only gave up seven scoring chances five-on-five (in Monday night’s 2-1 loss to the Isles),’’ Vigneault said.
Braun has been one of the bright spots this season and he appreciates having the same lineup in place for a second straight game.
“It’s nice to have the same group,’’ Braun added. “You get used to each other a little bit more. You get the tendencies down. The (roster) turnover, as much as we’ve had, we’ve just had to find a way. Even with five new guys in the lineup the next game, we just have to find a way to get it done.’’
Claude Giroux entered the New Jersey game needing one goal to move into sole possession of ninth place on the Flyers’ alltime goal scoring list. He was tied with Simon Gagne at 264. With 839 points, Giroux needed 11 more to pass Brian Propp for third on the Flyers’ alltime list, trailing only Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber.