The Flyers know one win, even though it was against their most bitter rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, is not going to turn around their season.
But it’s a start.
“We talked about that before the game in Pittsburgh -- getting the confidence back, getting some of that swagger back,” coach Dave Hakstol said after Monday’s practice in Voorhees. “You have to work your way toward that. That doesn’t just all come back in one shift, one period, one game.”
The Flyers defeated the Penguins on Saturday, 4-2, in the teams’ first meeting since Pittsburgh eliminated them in last year’s opening round of the playoffs, four games to two.
“It’s a good step. We really liked our togetherness in that game. That’s probably the biggest thing out of everything,” Hakstol said. “We really liked the emotion the guys played with in that game, and that’s a great place to start.”
In addition to Wayne Simmonds' igniting the team by fighting the mammoth Jamie Oleksiak, the Flyers had 36 hits in the win, including five each by Travis Konecny and Radko Gudas, who twice leveled Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby.
“We had a playoff series with them not too long ago, so there’s still a little bad blood there,” center Scott Laughton said. “I think that game was a little elevated. In scrums, guys were protecting each other.” ”
The Flyers need to bring that emotion each game, the players said, knowing that hasn’t always been the case in their 11-12-2 season.
“We were engaged. We made some mistakes early in that game, but we were able to push back because of the emotions the guys had going,” Hakstol said.
They will try to bring that intensity Thursday against visiting Columbus (15-9-2) and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (2.72 GAA, .911 save percentage), a former Flyer.
“They’re a big group that’s heavy, and they have a good 'D' corps and a good goalie,” Laughton said. "We have to be prepared for that game. They’re rolling pretty good and they have some big boys up front that can get in on the forecheck, so we have to be smart and make some plays around them.”
Konecny said the Flyers played mostly a solid game against Pittsburgh but gave up “too many Grade A opportunities, so there are things we have to clean up a bit – and Stolie [goalie Anthony Stolarz] stood on his head.”
Like Simmonds, defenseman Robert Hagg said the Flyers’ physical play against Pittsburgh needs to be carried into future games.
“When we’re all on our toes and going in hard on the forecheck and finishing hits, it’s building momentum for us,” said Hagg, one of the Flyers’ most physical defensemen.