Still convincing the doubters keeping it real for Flyers

John Tortorella

PHILADELPHIA – I’ll be the first to admit I thought the Flyers were done after that 9-3 demolition in Montreal the other night.

There was so much bedlam against a last-place team that it didn’t seem possible the Philadelphia players could make a necessary quick turnaround to keep their playoff hopes alive.

But here we are, just a few days later, and the Flyers have won two straight games and allowed one solitary goal in the process.

Against the playing-for-pride New Jersey Devils on Saturday, it was a monumental character check for the Flyers.

And they passed it with airtight 1-0 victory to continue their postseason dream.

“It was huge,” said Travis Konecny, who scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over the Devils at the Wells Fargo Center. “It was just getting back to believing. We know where we’re at. We’ve talked in the room – as long as we go home after the last three and said we gave it our best shot. That’s all you can do. You can feel it in the room right now, the guys want to prove we should be in the spot where we are at.”

There have been doubters all year but Konecny said the Flyers have sort of moved past that for motivation.

“A little bit,” he said. “I’ll be honest, we’re not even thinking about anyone on the outside. It’s just in the locker room. Guys are just excited to play for one another right now. We have just one left to try to get it done.”

In his post-game press conference, coach John Tortorella expressed admiration for his players, who bounced back from an eight-game (0-6-2) winless streak to keep their heads above water.

“We’ve played for a game on Tuesday which means something,” Tortorella said. “That’s all we have to be concerned about.

“I’m happy for them. We were struggling for a little bit there, just trying to stay in it, lost our position. But I think we’ve got our structure back in our game. ‘Ers’ (goaltender Sam Ersson) has played well in the last couple. I’m glad we get to play a meaningful game on Tuesday.”

Even though the Flyers dropped out of a playoff spot they held for 124 consecutive days, the coach said he’s admired the way his team hasn’t given up.

In a sense, it was important to finish thie season strong, regardless of how everything played out in the standings.

“Quite honestly, I’m not sure how many games we lost there,” Tortorella said. “There were probably two and a period that we played poorly. We still developed offense, couldn’t finish. I thought we did some really good defending until those last couple games. That’s what I’m happy about. We’re not going to look at the scoreboard. Maybe some people do, I’m not.

“I’m just glad they showed who they are.”

Erik Johnson won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche so he knows what it takes to capture a championship. He can tell if a team is headed in the right direction.

And when the Flyers hit the skids for a few weeks, they obviously forgot what got them to contending position.

“When you’re struggling to score (they only connected 12 times in six games), sometimes you might look for a play you normally wouldn’t,” he said. “I think we were kind of gripping our sticks too tight, looking for the perfect play at times.

“Now we’ve been playing a little more direct, simpler. It’s just led to us spending more time in our zone and more time in theirs. It’s led to some better play for us. You get the puck out of our zone as clean as possible as often as you can, you’re spending less time in your own zone. For that, I think it’s been good for us.”

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About Wayne Fish 2452 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.