Anyone watching the Flyers’ 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, asked themselves how a team, just six games away from the post season, could play with so little emotion. And that’s exactly what General Manager Paul Holmgren asked after witnessing the awful performance.
“We’ve got six games and we have to pick it up,” Holmgren said in published reports. “We’ve got top start playing the type of game that will allow us success in the playoffs. The way we’re playing now isn’t good enough – if we do get it.”
The Flyers spent the entire second period in their own zone, chasing the puck and making no effort to go the other way. They turned the puck over countless times in the neutral zone and rarely won battles on the boards. There was no skating, no hits and nothing to suggest the team cared about being on the ice. The contest could be described as a 40-minute long even strength penalty kill, with some flashes of energy at the beginning and end.
“That’s what it is about as a professional,” Homer said. “Putting forth that effort to win every night. I haven’t seen it on a consistent basis here, lately. We need it. We need an attitude adjustment right now.”
Holmgren proceeded to call out certain players, but not all who are to blame, just the ones who tend to respond rather than crumble under the pressure.
“Mike [Richards] has to play better, Jeff [Carter] has to play better, these guys are our big guns. Simon [Gagne] has to play better. Mike Knuble and Scott Hartnell, these are our big guys, they all have to step up. This is the time when you need those guys playing their best,” he said.
With the New Jersey Devils tanking and the rest of the conference hot and cold, the Flyers had a golden opportunity to not only solidify the fourth spot in the playoffs, but contend for the division. However, the Flyers went into the toilet, losing their last three of four, with the one win being an unlikely come from behind overtime victory.
“I don’t feel comfortable about a playoff spot until I get that little letter beside your name in the [standings],” Holmgren said. “We don’t have that. Yeah, we’re not playing as well as we need to play at this time of year to win games or even if we were fortunate enough to get in the playoffs.”
The Flyers were forced into an early practice Thursday, after arriving back in Philadelphia after midnight. The Flyers will get a chance to get back in the win column when they take on they host the same Maple Leafs, Friday.