While walking through the Deptford Mall on Monday, a strange announcement was heard over the public-address system:
Attention, shoppers. We have a lost group of 20 bearded young men and they say they don’t know how they got here.
The boys call themselves “Flyers,” and they seem confused and somewhat religious. They keep talking about their need to exorcise Devils and how they don't want to go golfing so early.
Again, they seem confused. Almost dazed, really.
They say they don’t remember much about the last three games, but they believe they won the conference championship against the Penguins a couple weeks ago. And they continually mutter things about being outworked and lacking emotion and needing someone to show them the way.
If you think you know the identity of any of these polite young men — one said he would have made a great astronaut if he hadn't discovered hockey – please contact our main office. Thank you.
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The Flyers did not practice on Monday. They had a meeting at their Voorhees practice facility and were given the day off and free time to walk around a mall, spend time with their families, go to a restaurant, or whatever.
Oh, and time to reflect on why they are on the brink of elimination, facing a three-games-to-one deficit in the Eastern Conference semifinals with the surging New Jersey Devils.
After their team meeting, coach Peter Laviolette, Kimmo Timonen, Danny Briere and Claude Giroux talked about the Flyers’ plight. All said the same things they mentioned after Games 2, 3 and 4: The Flyers are not getting out of their zone effectively, are getting beat to loose pucks, and are not playing like they have throughout the season.
They are getting outskated and losing too many battles. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
But Giroux, who later in the afternoon received a one-game suspension for Sunday’s hit on Dainius Zubrus’ head, added a new twist, twice saying the team has been “panicking” in the series and that it needs to “calm down.”
“At the end of the day, we’re panicking a little bit. We need to relax and have a little bit more confidence in our game,” said Giroux, who will not play in Game 5 Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Well, to quote Woody, the hockey aficionado from Toy Story: “This is the PERFECT time to panic!"
Controlled panic, that is. In other words, playing with an off-the-charts desperation level on every shift.
The Flyers have not shown much of it against the Devils. They have played this series like it was the regular season, and not with the high intensity that marked their first-round win over the Penguins.
High intensity? How can a team, in a virtual must-win situation, go 16:23 without a shot in their 4-2 loss in Game 4? Or not get a shot in the first 18:33 of the second period of Game 2?
Shots are created by puck possession, and that facet of the game has been dominated by New Jersey.
“The turnovers and our composure with the puck the last few games hasn't been where it needs to be or where it should be on a team like ours,” Briere said. “We've seen all year that we know we can make plays. Where now, sometimes you start going down that slope and it’s tough to recover and it seems it's been getting worse and worse for us.
“Hopefully, today was a chance to take a step back and maybe play with a little more urgency.”
"I have a tremendous amount of confidence that we can win a game (Tuesday), and I say that not as a sales pitch,” coach Peter Laviolette said.
Briere said the Flyers “have faced adversity all year and shown we can come back from it.”
Timonen said the Flyers aren’t taking care of “little details” in their game.
“It’s time to go back to basics,” he said.
At Monday’s team meeting, there were questions, lots of questions, about how the Flyers can regroup.
“But after the meeting, I sensed guys were upbeat,” Briere said. “We’ve been in tough positions before. I have the sense guys were starting to get alive and starting to believe they can do this.”
At this point, the words are hollow, and need to be backed up on the ice.
If they’re not, you might see some clean-shaven hockey players walking around a mall near you.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.