Slumping Flyers still believe they have a chance

Travis Sanheim

      VOORHEES, N.J. – They’ve been counted out by everybody all season and the Flyers have been proving them wrong.

      Now, situated on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, why should this be any different?

      Heading into Tuesday night’s game at Montreal, the Flyers only have four games left on their schedule and they still have to catch at least two of three teams – Detroit, Washington or Pittsburgh (if the Islanders hold on to the number three spot in the Metropolitan Division).

      Philadelphia will try to end a seven-game winless streak (0-5-2).

      At Monday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center, several players said the mood remains upbeat. There’s still a sense of “we’re going to show you” both on the ice and in the locker room.

      “One thing this room has been good at all season is battling adversity,” goaltender Samuel Ersson said. “And finding our way to bounce back from tough situations. Belief is the last thing that’s going to leave this room.”

      Is there a feeling of hope?

      “Yeah, there has to be,” Travis Sanheim said. “We’re still in the mix. We just have to control what we can control. Right now that’s winning hockey games. We have to get back to that.”

      Owen Tippett feels the same way.

      “I think it’s going to come right down to the last game (Washington, April 16),” he predicted. “With our mood, we know we can beat teams coming down the line here. You know, you see how tight the race is. All we can do is take it one game at a time.”

      The Flyers’ other two games are against the Rangers in New York on Thursday and then they welcome in the New Jersey Devils for a Saturday, 5 p.m. game at the Wells Fargo Center.

      Coach John Tortorella seems to be past the concept of rallying the troops. This season was supposed to be about evaluating players and now he gets a chance to do that under the most challenging, stressful conditions.

      The coach was asked if he feels like this situation will tell him something about his players.

      “I don’t know, I’ve got to watch the next four games,” he said. “We’re all evaluating the situation. I’ve replayed it in my mind. I don’t think we’ve lost our concept. The Columbus game (a 6-2 loss) I thought we gave up too many chances.

      “We’ve struggled a little bit in goal (Ersson, Ivan Fedotov). Some of the games have been tough for the goalies because we have given so few chances – it’s hard to play those types of games. It’s the time of year where we’re trying to get in. Goals are going in and we’re not scoring.”

      Even the coach seems a little perplexed by the way the Flyers have faltered against some of the NHL’s lesser-lights, such as Chicago, Buffalo and Columbus.

      “I think we’re trying,” he said. “But we haven’t found our way. We’re getting chances. Buffalo, we outchanced them 2-1. We don’t score, they do. I’m certainly not blaming anybody but that’s where we’re at. We have to fix it. That’s kind of my responsibility to figure out some line combinations to help us score.”

      >Short shots

       Sean Couturier, who’s been sidelined since the Chicago game, took part in practice on Monday but was wearing a non-contact yellow jersey.

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About Wayne Fish 2444 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.