Flyers still motivated to prove the experts wrong

Morgan Frost

      VOORHEES, N.J. – Just a half-dozen games left on the Flyers’ schedule and no one has to remind them they’re in a sprint to the finish line.

      Winless in five games (0-3-2), the Flyers are hanging on to a playoff spot by the tiniest of threads.

      The team is hoping to recapture that spirit of playing with chips on their shoulders after most preseason prognosticators picked them to finish in the bottom five out of the 32 NHL teams this season.

      Joel Farabee sounds like one of the players who’s fully embraced the “us against the world” mindset.

      “I think the good thing about it is it’s in our hands, we’re not hoping anyone else has to lose,” Farabee said after Wednesday’s optional practice at the Flyers Training Center.

     “We know we’re capable of doing that. I think the three days. . .we had a chance to talk things over this morning. I feel like we’re in a good spot. I think we’ve kind of done it all year, proving people wrong. But it doesn’t matter what others say, it’s only what’s said in here that counts.”

      Coach John Tortorella is on board with that approach.

      “We have a meeting tomorrow and I think it’s important because we want to make sure we’re thinking correctly,” Tortorella said. “I am proud of our team.

      “But it’s my job to make sure they understand where we’re at now. We’re not in the regular season. We have put ourselves in this spot, let’s not fade away and say, you know what, we’re not even supposed to be here. We’re here. I want to make sure we go at this the proper way, so we don’t say on April 16 (season finale) ‘why didn’t I do that?’ I don’t want regret. I don’t want us to fade away now.”

      The Flyers begin a four-game road trip on Friday night and it’s safe to say how they play in games against Buffalo, Columbus (Saturday), Montreal (Tuesday) and the New York Rangers (Thursday, April 11) will go a long way toward securing their first playoff spot in four seasons.

      Can the Flyers somehow turn the momentum around and find their way into the postseason? What has to change to post a few wins? That was the chief topic of conversation after practice.

      Eight players, including injured center Sean Couturier, had the day off. Everyone could use a mental and physical break heading into this final crucial stretch, especially some of the team’s veteran players.

      Tortorella discussed what he wants from his team over these last six games.

      “I’m so proud of the team getting here,” he began. “The narrative out there, and I’ve heard this from other people, is ‘they’re young, they’re not supposed to be here.’ Bull. We’re here. Face it. And let’s be better.

      “And I don’t think we’re ready to be better and that’s my problem with us right now. I have not done a good enough job to get them over the hump, to tell them we have to be different now, we have to be at a different level. That’s my frustration with the team.”

      Communication is important and transparency is a key. The coach wants honesty, simple as that.

      And he doesn’t want his players listening to outside negative talk either.

      “I think this is a pretty special group and I think all the athletes need to learn to tune stuff out,” Tortorella said. “I think they’ve done a really good job of that. I think it’s a group that’s just locked in together. I don’t think too much is going to affect them.”

      Some players even don’t listen to what’s available on their phones.

      “It doesn’t really matter what the outside noise is saying,” Farabee said. “If you asked us seven months ago if we were going to be here, every guy in the room would have said it would be awesome to be in this position. You have to look at the positives like that.”

      Morgan Frost said this three-day break can be really helpful, not only from a physical standpoint but mental one as well.

      “It’s kind of a reset,” he said. “We talked as a team. Things haven’t been going the way we want. We’re in a good spot still. All that matters is the next game. We should be confident in our ability in these games.”

      Will still hearing doubts from outsiders serve as motivation down the stretch?

      “We’ve kind of been playing the underdogs all year,” Frost said. “I think other teams started to realize we are a good team. It’s not just a fluke that we’ve done so well for most of the season. No one really picked us to be in this playoff position. We should be happy with what we’ve done so far. We just have to do well these last six games and we’re in.”

      >Short shots

      The eight players who did not practice were Garnet Hathaway, Scott Laughton, Travis Konecny, Owen Tippett, Travis Sanheim, Cam York, Ryan Poehling and Sean Couturier. Couturier was injured in Monday’s game against the New York Islanders. Tortorella did not have an update on his condition. Couturier is listed as “day to day.”

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About Wayne Fish 2426 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.