Mike Yeo decided to sleep on it, rather than deliver the message in the emotional heat of the moment.
So about 14 hours after his team got run out of the Wells Fargo Center by the 10-wins-in-a-row Pittsburgh Penguins, the Flyers interim head coach addressed his players before Friday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center.
“Discussing what we want to build here,’’ was the start of Yeo’s message. “Part of that is the game that you want to see on a night-to-night basis, a shift-to-shift basis. Part of that is sort of an attitude. The teams that are most difficult to play against are the teams that are there year after year. What’s common about them is you know what to expect, night after night, they’re going to be difficult to play against.’’
That’s the model on which Yeo wants his team to aspire.
“They can have different guys come into the lineup, different guys go out of the lineup,’’ Yeo said. “You can score first, they can score first, you can play them at home, you can play them on the road, but their game always looks the same. That’s what we have to get to.’’
The Flyers try to get out of a current mini-rut when they host the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
“We can’t just have a good start like we did last night,’’ Yeo said. “And the next thing you know something goes wrong and in a three-minute span you give up two more goals. How you handle that, how you deal with that, how you come out the next shift, reset things and get back on your game, come back from a tough loss, tomorrow we have a chance to do that.’’
As in some of its performances in recent years, Philadelphia has shown to be a streaky team this season. In the past couple months, the Flyers went through a 10-game (0-8-2) skid (which cost coach Alain Vigneault his job), then a seven-game (5-0-2) point streak followed by a four-game (0-3-1) winless stretch.
Obviously, illness and injuries have a lot to do with it. But those still aren’t an excuse for uninspired performances such as Thursday night against Pittsburgh, when a 6-2 loss to the Penguins wasn’t nearly as close as the score might indicate.
“What we saw (in the 5-0-2 run) is kind of what your would expect,’’ Yeo said. “We started to build some confidence, started to build our game, started to see some results. The next thing you know there was the break (two games postponed, followed by the Christmas break). When we came back from the break, we went on a long road trip missing some key players. That’s going to make things difficult, more challenging. But how we’ve responded is not something we should feel real good about.’’
Can the Flyers get this right before they fall too far out of the playoff picture?
“I know it’s something we can get to,’’ Yeo said. “It’s a little bit more challenging with the guys we have out of the lineup. But what it comes down to for me is all of us setting a certain standard for what’s acceptable as far as being a Philadelphia Flyer, a certain standard of work ethic, a certain standard of puck management, attention to detail, discipline. We have to keep pushing that.’’
>Brassard doubtful for Sharks game
On Thursday night, Derick Brassard returned to the lineup to play his first game since Dec. 8. Apparently things did not go all that well. He was absent from practice on Friday and Yeo said the center is “doubtful” for Saturday’s game against the San Jose Sharks.
Sounds like the problem is the same injury which kept him out of the lineup for the better part of a month.
“He’s been dealing with a lingering issue,’’ Yeo said. “We came back from the trip, he had been skating, he felt good. Went into the (Pittsburgh) game and today he didn’t feel good. Call it day-to-day and we will go from there.’’
Also, Cam Atkinson did not skate but Yeo said that was just a maintenance day situation.
>Jones gets the start
Martin Jones, who has spent most of his career playing for the Sharks, gets the start in goal on Saturday.
“This is not about ‘Hartsy’ (Carter Hart) in the last game,’’ Yeo said. “I don’t think we played nearly well enough in front of him to give him a chance. It (Jones to start this game) was something in the plans for awhile. I’m excited for Jones to get that opportunity.’’
>Braun not making excuses
Veteran defenseman Justin Braun said the Flyers can’t lean on illness or injuries for their sporadic play. “It is difficult with the coaching change, not many practice days and guys in and out of the lineup,” he said.
“It is tough but it comes down to work ethic, attention to detail; those are the things. . .you have to make the small plays to get the job done.”