Good teams find ways to win games, and bad teams find ways to lose them. During the Philadelphia Flyers last three games, they have been the former.
Adversity reveals a team’s character. When faced with a challenge, the players will rise to the occasion or succumb to the pressure. Early in the season, the Flyers played with zero confidence. Their passes were off target, they turned the puck over, and they were waiting for the game to come to them instead of attacking.
The turn around started Nov. 9 against the Edmonton Oilers. With six minutes left in the game, the Flyers led 3-1 until Taylor Hall scored to make it a one-goal game. Three minutes later, Brayden Schenn fed a pass to Vincent Lecavalier who scored to put the Flyers back up by two goals.
Late in the second period against the Oilers, Claude Giroux turned the puck over on a penalty kill that led to an Oilers goal. Edmonton’s goal came with less than two minutes remaining in the second period. Goals at the beginning and end of a period can provide a big boost of momentum for a team. Having scored a goal so close to the intermission, the Oilers were a dangerous team entered the final frame.
The second period itself was enough for any fan to feel bad for Giroux. Prior to his turnover on the penalty kill, he had two golden opportunities to score, but was turned away by two fantastic saves by Devan Dubnyk. How did Giroux respond to this? He scored his first goal of the season with eight minutes remaining in the third period. The Flyers ended up winning that game 4-2 and the momentum carried into Pittsburgh.
Before the first twenty seconds of the game had expired, Chris Kuntiz
scored to put the Penguins up 1-0. The officials reviewed the goal and said Kunitz had kicked the puck into the net, which reset the scoreboard at 0-0. The Flyers and fans alike breathed a sigh of relief and weathered the next few minutes of the Penguins attack. Earlier in the season, the Flyers likely would have lost that game. Instead, they scored two goals, played shutdown hockey and came out with a 2-1 win against their cross-state rival.
In Winnipeg, the final game of a three game road stretch, the orange and black were up 2-1 with six minutes left in the third period. Steve Downie took a bad penalty, which put the Flyers down a man for two minutes. On the Jets fourth power play of the game, Dustin Byfuglien scored on a slap shot to tie the game. The Flyers played their way into overtime where they dominated for all five minutes. The only reason the Jets came out of that game with a shootout win was because Ondrej Pavelec did his best Patrick Roy impression.
Tuesday night’s game against Ottawa, the Flyers once again responded well to a challenge. With the Senators buzzing in the third period, Kyle Turris nearly buried his second goal of the night, but Nicklas Grossmann made a skate save to keep the game tied. Whether or not the puck crossed the line, the Flyers took control of the game scored two goals in twenty three seconds to go up 4-2. Steve Mason made a huge save on a penalty shot to preserve the two goal lead.
Early in the season, the Flyers would have likely lost these games. They would have probably put their heads down and accepted that, one way, or another, their opponent would come out with the win. In the past few games, the exact opposite has happened. The orange and black have a new found confidence. They have earned points in the last five games and have climbed back into the thick of the division.