Flyers out to make home ice a little sweeter down the stretch

Nick Seeler
      PHILADELPHIA – As much as any professional team in these parts, the Flyers have almost always relied on the old home-ice advantage to carry them to regular-season success.
      From their Stanley Cup championship years of the ‘70s to a smattering of seasons in the 21st century, it’s been loud, energetic crowds at both the old Spectrum and the current Wells Fargo Center which have inspired the orange and black.
      When the record in the WFC droops, the season seems to sag with it. For the past two-plus seasons, the Flyers have not enjoyed a winning record on their own rink and that’s not a good sign.
      Heading into Monday night’s game against the New York Islanders (the first of a four-game homestand), the Flyers sported a mediocre 10-12-2 mark at the WFC while forging a much better ledger (11-9-2) on the road.
      It’s no coincidence the 12-12-4 record in 2020-21 and 14-21-6 mark last year at home resulted in no postseason play.
      If the Flyers are going to mount some sort of charge for a playoff spot, improving the record starts at home.
      “It’s felt like a weird year to be honest,’’ Scott Laughton said. “Coming home a lot after road trips and playing back-to-backs. All the good teams have a great home record. It’s something we have to do – feed off the Eagles this week. Try and roll with it and go from there.”
      Nick Seeler realizes it’s important to come out of the gate quickly and get the crowd into it. When the stands are rocking, the energy level on the bench really gets ratcheted up.
      “We play hard and our coach preaches that, the importance of it,’’ Seeler said. “I think at home especially in front of our own fans, to get a winning record here is really important. The momentum is key for us and the fans. These last 30-plus games, we need to come out hard in the first (period). We’ve been working on our starts. They’ve been better. You start with that.”
      Just a few seasons back, the Flyers posted a 25-6-4 home mark in 2019-20 on the way to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference bubble tournament in Toronto. Also, in the two seasons between 2015-17, the Flyers were a combined 48-21-13.
      Now if the Flyers could just get a semblance of those performances.
      “This homestand will be really big for us,’’ Joel Farabee said. “Hopefully we come out with all four and that will put us in a really good spot. That’s our focus. This game will be a good test.’’
      Coach John Tortorella said back in training camp he wanted his team to be “hard to play against, especially at home.” So far it hasn’t quite played out that way.
      “Coming off a break, we’re not traveling today,’’ Tortorella said. “I think we need to use it (the homestand) to our benefit. I do think we need to sort ourselves out a bit at home and be a little more consistent there. I just want to see us be more consistent at home. But we can’t ahead of ourselves, just worry about our first home game here.”
      Of course, the hard-to-please Tortorella wants to see improvement, be it home or away.
      “We have to try to be consistent with our game, whether we’re home or away,’’ he said. “The defensive part of it, that’s what brings out the hardness in your team. It’s your checking, people have to come through you. It’s a big part of who we are. I can’t be specific, I just don’t remember home games – how hard we were or if we weren’t. It all blends in to me. Home or away, we’re just trying to be the best we can be.”
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About Wayne Fish 2154 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.