The Flyers expect to win. They expect to make the playoffs and they can't stomach being called a bad team.
But their inconsistent play implies otherwise. In the midst of five games in eight days (and 15 in 28 days) they looked tired in a recent loss -- 4-1 to the Ducks in what could be their ugliest setback of the year.
"We have to as a group make sure whether we’re a little bit tired or in a tough stretch, regardless of all of that, there’s pretty important points available," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said, "and we have to do a better job. I’m not pointing fingers at guys in the group, we just have to do a better job.”
The swings from looking like a contending hockey team to looking like a team destined for a top draft pick have been pretty drastic this season.
And even though nearly two entire months of play remain, with six points to make up in the standings they need to work out their issues as soon as possible.
“I didn’t like the way we played coming out of Christmas and we had one stretch in November," Hakstol said. "I don’t think that has anything to do with the last couple of days. We played well here Saturday afternoon, we played a good road game in Washington. We laid it on the line, we played hard, we played well against a good hockey team. Today’s game is the one we have to focus on turning around so I’m not making it any bigger than that.”
The Flyers must do something to convince Ron Hextall and the front office that they should buy at the trade deadline. Otherwise, Mark Streit and other veteran contributors could find themselves on the way out. Being tired is not an option.
“You can say all the excuses you want. It comes down to us," Shayne Gostisbehere, who stretched his point streak to nine games with an assist Tuesday, said. "If we don’t win games, we aren’t going anywhere. We are not going to sit back and play the blame game. We got to look at ourselves in the mirror and just keep working.”
The frustration and sense of urgency was palpable in the Flyers' locker room Tuesday night, as captain Claude Giroux made sure to take ownership of recent failings.
"You guys are just saying excuses right now," Giroux said to reporters. "You know, we gotta be better than that. We know we have a tough schedule, but every team has a tough schedule. So we need to find a way to get it done and tonight we weren’t playing our game. As a team we want to have an identity and tonight that wasn’t the case. We need to figure it out."
The Flyers host the Sabres Thursday and the Devils Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center.