Flyers searching for answers to end their inconsistent play

Posted: April 03, 2011

For the first time in nearly three months, the Flyers are looking up at an opponent in the Eastern Conference standings.

They fell into second place Saturday night when Washington defeated visiting Buffalo, 5-4, in overtime, and climbed into first.

The Flyers, who had been atop the East since Jan. 8, have four games remaining, while the Capitals have three. Washington has a one-point lead.

The Flyers held a team meeting Saturday, trying to figure out the root of their inconsistent play during the last six weeks.

"We play some really good hockey, and then we kind of sit back," said high-scoring forward Jeff Carter, adding that he thinks the Flyers need to win all four remaining games to capture their first regular-season conference title since 1999-2000. "We're going to have to figure it out real soon to make a run in the playoffs."

Sunday, in an NBC-televised matinee against the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers have a score to settle. A month ago, the Rangers embarrassed the Flyers on national TV, 7-0.

The Flyers took control of the Atlantic Division with an impressive 5-2 win in Pittsburgh on Tuesday. But they have dropped their last two games to lowly opponents, losing to Atlanta, 1-0, and to New Jersey, 4-2.

In the last six weeks, the Flyers have won just eight of 21 games (8-8-5). They are 13-10-5 since the all-star break.

While the Flyers are attempting to move a step closer to winning the Atlantic Division (they lead the Penguins by two points) and Eastern Conference, the Rangers are eighth in the East and are trying to hold off Carolina for the East's final playoff spot.

The Rangers are coming off consecutive road losses to Buffalo and the Islanders.

"It's going to be a hungry game on both sides," goalie Brian Boucher said.

During last month's trouncing by the Rangers, Boucher allowed four goals in 26 minutes, 28 seconds and was replaced by Sergei Bobrovsky.

Bobrovsky, owner of a 28-12-6 record, is expected to start Sunday. The Russian rookie has excelled in his last four games, going 2-1-1 with a 1.23 goals-against average and .957 save percentage. He will be trying to help the Flyers break out of a funk in which they have lost five of their last seven games.

Last year, they lost eight of their last 12 regular-season games before their remarkable playoff run.

Breakaways. The Flyers are 4-1 against the Rangers this season. Before their 7-0 loss last month, the Flyers had outscored the Rangers, 15-6. . . . Winger Jody Shelley, coming off orbital-bone surgery, should be able to play Friday in Buffalo, general manager Paul Holmgren said. . . . Chris Pronger, recovering from a broken right hand, is able to skate, but the team is keeping him from doing any more shooting for a few more days. . . . The Flyers recalled defenseman Danny Syvret from the AHL's Phantoms.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/BroadStBull

 

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