Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Flyers are tougher mentally

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- There are a lot of differences in the Flyers over the last month, pushing them toward a playoff spot with a 5-1-1 record in their last 7 games.

Flyers are tougher mentally

Philadelphia Flyers´ Kimmo Timonen (44) checks Edmonton Oilers´ Jesse<br />Joensuu. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,<br />Jason Franson)
Philadelphia Flyers' Kimmo Timonen (44) checks Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Joensuu. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jason Franson)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- There are a lot of differences in the Flyers over the last month, pushing them toward a playoff spot with a 5-1-1 record in their last 7 games.

The biggest might be their team confidence.

The Flyers have three comeback wins while trailing in the third period since Dec. 4 - more than they had all of last year’s lockout shortened season combined with the first two months of this one.

“I think at the start of the year, we would get really frustrated with our play if we were up two goals and they’d score one, we’d get frustrated right away and kind of press the panic button,” captain Claude Giroux said. “I think it’s more everyone’s relaxing, everybody’s doing their job.”

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It’s hard to pick which comeback has been more impressive.

On Dec. 4, the Flyers trailed, 3-2, to start the third in Detroit - a place where they’ve won just once since 1988. They scored at even strength, twice on the power play and once in the empty net to win 6-3.

On Dec. 20, the Flyers trailed, 3-0, to start the third against Columbus. The Blue Jackets had never lost (36-0-1) under Todd Richards when leading heading into the third. They scored twice, fell back into a two-goal hole, and scored three more times to win in regulation.

On Saturday, the Flyers were tied, 2-2, to start the third in Edmonton but lapsed into a 3-2 deficit midway through the period. Scott Hartnell scored a power play goal with a little more than 5 minutes left before the Flyers won in a shootout.

There have been warts, too. As a whole, the Flyers have been outscored, 17-16, in the third period in December - but that’s actually better than in was in the first two months. They have also blown two third period leads, leaving a point on the table in both Ottawa and Washington. They have a points percentage of .722 when leading at the start of the third, just 24th in the NHL.

The Flyers will be tested against the Canucks tonight, a team they blew one of those third period leads against back on Oct. 15. Ryan Kesler scored with 2:25 left in the third period to deliver the win for Vancouver.

Canucks coach John Tortorella is 35-15-0 against the Flyers since 2003, including the playoffs, following stints with the Lightning, Rangers and now Vancouver.

Still, something feels different about this Flyers team right now. They’re beginning to get their swagger back - something that was missing for the last season and a half.

POWER IS BACK ON: Maybe it’s just life on the road.

The Flyers have converted 18 of 71 power play attempts as the visitor this season, good for 5th in the NHL at 25.4 percent. They added three more in Edmonton to finally push their overall percentage to 15th in the league after starting 30th.

“We’re starting to go right now,” Wayne Simmonds said. “It’s nice. Especially for me - we’ve got (Giroux) and Jake (Voracek) threading passes through the seams. We’ve got a double presence in front of the net with me and ‘Hartsy’ (Scott Hartnell) and Kimmo (Timonen) seems to get all the shots through.”

They are facing a Canucks team that ranks 22nd in the league at 15.4 percent on the power play. 

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers

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Frank Seravalli Daily News Staff Writer
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