Flyers need fast start after break
The Flyers have done an admirable job overcoming an awful start and putting themselves in the thick of the playoff race.
But with just six points separating the second- and seventh-place teams in the Metropolitan Division, there is little margin for error in the final 23 regular-season games. The third-place Flyers, who had a four-game winning streak when the NHL paused for the Olympic break, resume play Thursday with a difficult test against visiting San Jose.
"After the break, you have to show up every 60 minutes because if you lose one game, you can go from in the playoffs to out of the playoffs," winger Matt Read said after Thursday's practice in Voorhees. "It's tight and every game matters; it's going to be a playoff mentality right off the hop."
The Flyers began the season 1-7 - their worst record after eight games in franchise history - but are 29-16-6 since then and have climbed into third place in the Metro, one point behind the New York Rangers. The top three teams in each division earn playoff berths, along with two wild-card teams in each conference.
The Flyers were playing their best hockey of the season before the break, recording wins over Los Angeles, San Jose, Colorado, and Calgary.
"We have to pick up with that team mentality that we had," winger Scott Hartnell said. "When we slid, before that four-game winning streak, guys were trying to do too much - too cute and all that stuff. The last four games were everything deep [in the zone], everything in, and sacrifice for each other. I think we have to try to continue on that this week and get as many gamelike practices as we can."
The Flyers' first five games after the break are against San Jose, the Rangers, Washington (twice), and Toronto. All are in playoff spots except the Capitals, who are one point behind the final wild-card spot.
The four Flyers Olympians whose teams have been eliminated - Jake Voracek (Czech Republic), Andrej Meszaros (Slovakia), Michael Raffl (Austria), and Mark Streit (Switzerland) - will report to the Flyers' practice facility on Sunday. Kimmo Timonen's Finland team plays Sweden in Friday's semifinals.