GLENDALE, Ariz. – Eleven days earlier, the Flyers left Philadelphia feeling embarrassed by their 6-1 home loss to the New York Islanders. Doubts were everywhere. The team was 4-7 and spiraling downward.
They returned from their four-game Western swing with a new outlook, feeling good about themselves and more connected to their teammates.
A 3-0-1 road trip, you see, has a way of galvanizing a team.
“Before the road trip, we thought this could be a good thing for us,” captain Claude Giroux said after collecting two goals and an assist in Monday’s 5-2 victory in Arizona, snapping the Coyotes’ five-game winning streak. “Get on the same page, play as a team. We did a really good job of that.”
“We got away from distractions and just focused on our group,” said center Sean Couturier, who had two goals on the trip, which included wins in Anaheim and Los Angeles, and a 4-3 overtime loss in San Jose. “We regrouped together and stuck up for each other and battled hard for each other. Guys weren’t afraid to make mistakes, and if they happened, guys battled back and we had each others’ backs.
“We’ll need that at home as well.”
The Flyers (7-7-1), who open a season-high five-game homestand Thursday against the same Coyotes, allowed 2.5 goals per game on their road swing. They had been allowing 4.2 goals per game.
“We’re happy with our trip,” said Couturier, whose team scored the first goal in each of the four games. “Seven out of eight points is pretty good. But we can’t be satisfied. We have to have a good stretch at home and build on this trip and keep climbing the standings.”
Their upcoming homestand starts with the Coyotes and includes games against Chicago, Florida, New Jersey, and Tampa Bay,
The Flyers are 5-3-1 on the road, but just 2-4 at Gritty’s house.
Giroux liked the trip, but said the Flyers need to be “a little more consistent in how we’re playing. Make sure we’re ready to go every night. You need to be a mature team to play great every night.”
Coach Dave Hakstol credited the team’s leaders for getting the Flyers to refocus.
“We had good team efforts. That’s the biggest thing that comes out of this road trip,” the fourth-year coach said. “We were able to really dig in, and that’s what it takes to have success on the road.”
Eleven days earlier, the Flyers headed to California and were near the bottom or dead last in numerous important categories, including goals allowed per game, save percentage, and penalty-killing percentage.
“That was a long flight here and a long couple days [before they played again],” Hakstol said. “I give a lot of credit to the leadership [group] and the guys in the room who have been through some of the ups and downs.”
Hakstol said the players put in the work to improve areas – especially their overall defensive play – and that once they started the trip with a hard-earned win in Anaheim, it was a way “to let you breathe a little. It was big to get ourselves on the right foot on this trip.”
Oskar Lindblom, the coming-of-age left winger who, along with linemate Nolan Patrick, had six points on the road swing, called it a “perfect trip. We needed this. We just have to bring it home now and relax and play our game at home.”
Gritty, who was mocked in a scoreboard video shown to fans at Monday’s game in Arizona, is waiting.
The Flyers said they would not have an update until Wednesday on goalie Brian Elliott, who was injured in a collision with teammate Travis Konecny Sunday and unable to play Monday. … Backup goalie Cal Pickard had strong outings in each of the last two wins. … The Flyers never trailed on their four-game trip, except when San Jose scored in overtime. … Defenseman Christian Folin, who has replaced Andrew MacDonald in the lineup, leads the team with a plus-6 rating.