Flyers respond to coach’s speech with inspired win

Cam Atkinson
      Apparently the message got through loud and clear.
      One day after Flyers interim head coach Mike Yeo made it known to his players their recent efforts (including a humiliating 5-4 loss to Minnesota on Thursday night) were unacceptable, the team reacted in a positive way.
      Down 3-2 after two periods in Saturday afternoon’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Flyers rallied for a pair of goals — a tying marker from Derick Brassard and the winner from Cam Atkinson — and hung on for a 4-3 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
      It was just the second time all season the Flyers have overcome a second intermission deficit (2-23-4).
      The win also kept alive a 15-game home, regular-season winning streak against the Blackhawks dating back to 1996.
      Yeo said on Friday the emotions ran a little high in the team meeting but the players seemed to take it the right way.
      At least that’s the way it looked out on the ice.
      “The team got called out pretty loudly by our coach,’’ said Kevin Hayes, just back from a long injury (adductor) absence. “I thought the boys responded the right way. It goes a long way when your teammates are sticking up for one another.’’
      The line of Joel Farabee (three assists), Brassard and Atkinson (two goals) played with the same sort of success it had earlier in the season.
      Getting that motivation talk from the coach probably added to the energy level. There were numerous scrums, a lot of them initiated by the Flyers.
      “That last game was an embarrassment,’’ Atkinson admitted. “Everyone, myself included. To do it in front of our fans, that shouldn’t happen. We wanted to come out strong (Saturday).  When guys stick up for each other, it kind of brings everyone into the fight. That’s what good teams do, when they support each other. Good things usually happen. Play hard for each other, play for the logo on the front.’’
      Chicago took a one-goal lead when they got the second of two goals from Dylan Strome late in the second period to break a 2-2 tie.
      On the that goal, Strome skated into the slot, had his initial entry blocked by defenseman Justin Braun but regained the puck and lifted it past Martin Jones with 1:58 to play in the period.
      But the Brassard and Atkinson goals saved the day.
      Yeo confirmed he was satisfied with the way his team responded.
      “I like the way we came out in the third, for sure,’’ he said. “A positive step.’’
      The coach had mentioned on Friday he had talked with Brassard, in particular, about a more responsible brand of play. Brassard came through.
      “That’s what we’re looking for,’’ Yeo said. “Accountability, it’s one thing to say it, but you have to go out and you have to do it. He definitely did that today.’’
      Added Brassard: “I just tried to play better than the other game (in which a failed clearing attempt led to a crucial Wild goal). You’re not always going to play your best but you’ve got to bounce back. We’re just trying to get the intensity a little bit higher. I tried to play a little harder tonight.’’
      Up to that point the lead see-sawed back and forth.
      Oskar Lindblom hit the scoreboard first, tipping Travis Sanheim’s point shot past goaltender Kevin Lankinen at 4:46.
      That lead held up until the 24-second mark of the second period when Alex DeBrincat struck. Claude Giroux lost a faceoff to Jonathan Toews. The puck came straight to DeBrincat, who promptly notched the 150th goal of his career.
      Chicago made it 2-1 at 12:39. Strome finished off a nice feed from Patrick Kane.
      But the Flyers had another rally in them. Atkinson worked a give-and-go with Farabee to knot the score again at 15:28.
      >Nice gesture by Jagr
      Former Flyer Jaromir Jagr announced on Saturday he is moving his Kladno team’s season finale from a 5,000-plus venue to Prague’s 02 Arena (18,000) to help raise funds for Ukraine refugees in the Czech Republic. Jagr is hoping for a sellout crowd.
      >Short shots

Ex-Flyer Wayne Simmonds, now playing for Toronto, was scheduled to play in his 1,000th NHL game on Saturday and no doubt received some congratulations from his former teammates in Philadelphia. Simmonds was always a class act during a lengthy stay with the Flyers. . .Giroux played in his 995th NHL game on Saturday. The subject of frequent trade rumors, Giroux can make it 1,000 games in a Flyers uniform if he’s not moved before the March 21 NHL deadline. . .The Flyers finish their eight-game homestand on Tuesday vs. the Vegas Golden Knights. . .Kevin Hayes made his return from injury a successful one, showing good mobility and earning an assist on the Lindblom goal. Lindblom, who failed to score in his first 21 games this season, now has nine goals in his last 32 games. l .Flyers defenseman Kevin Connauton was injured by a third period check and did not return to action. . .Yeo said he had not spoken to Connauton after the game but added, “it did not look good.”

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About Wayne Fish 1793 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.