Flyers defenseman Mark Streit cannot explain why the Flyers are prone to slow starts but play better when they are trailing in a game this season.
“I don’t know,” the veteran said after the team rallied from a 2-0 hole in the first period on Wednesday to beat the Red Wings, 4-3, in overtime. “I haven’t figured that out yet.”
He’s not alone.
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From the captain to the head coach, no one on the team has been able to offer up an explanation — or a solution, for that matter.
However, they know the perplexing pattern.
The Flyers are either careless with the puck, lack energy or suffer from some bad bounces and surrender a couple early goals. Then, usually in the second period, they find their legs, change the momentum and storm back into the game.
“I guess a light just turns on in our heads and we realize there’s two points on the line,” forward Brayden Schenn said. “However, we should start realizing that before the puck drops. I don’t know why it’s like that; it’s all about urgency.”
Through the first 11 games of the season heading into Thursday’s matchup with the Islanders, the Flyers had allowed the first goal in all but three games and fallen behind by two goals or more in seven of them.
Remarkably, though, the Flyers have overcome those deficits to at least tie the game every single time — although it hasn’t always resulted in a win. They erased a four-goal deficit against the Blackhawks before losing, 7-4, but rallied from a 3-0 hole to beat the Sabres in a shootout.
“It’s nice to come back and win, but we have to stop doing this because it is getting old,” captain Claude Giroux said. “We have to find a way to have better starts.”
The silver lining to their erratic play is that the Flyers have proven they are never out of the game despite the score and have shown they have character when faced with adversity.
“We’re finding ways to battle back and that’s important right now,” Schenn said. “We’re finding ways to get two points. It’s nice to see the guys stick together with it.”
The Flyers know the style of play is working, for now, but that is impossible to sustain over the course of a long season, especially against elite teams like the first-place Canadiens, who host the Flyers on Saturday.
“You cannot play hockey like that for every game,” said Jake Voracek, who netted the game winner in OT on Wednesday. “If you are going to play one of the top teams in the league … they are not going to let you back in the game. It takes so much energy out of you that you are eventually going to lose that game. We have to make sure that we end up back on top."