Weary Flyers need to find some consistency

Peter Laviolette during a time-out against the Panthers during the first period at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Thursday, February 21, 2013. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Peter Laviolette during a time-out against the Panthers during the first period at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Thursday, February 21, 2013. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer) (Steven M. Falk)
Posted: February 24, 2013

The Flyers' inconsistent early season was demonstrated clearly by the results within a 24-hour period earlier this week. After posting one of their most impressive and surely one of the most exciting performances of the season in a 6-5 win on Wednesday at Pittsburgh, the Flyers laid a giant egg in Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers at the Wells Fargo Center.

One great performance followed by a clunker. That pretty much has described the Flyers' season, which is why they are 8-10-1.

After Thursday's loss, the Flyers talked about being tired, and they certainly had a point, playing a night after just finishing a six-game road trip, the longest of the season.

Yet in this condensed 48-game schedule, this is what the Flyers and other teams face.

The Flyers, who did not practice on Friday, have played 19 games, one more than any team in the NHL. So the fatigue is understandable. They have already played back-to-back games six times and have four more sets of them the rest of the way.

The Flyers are 0-2 twice in back-to-backs and 1-1 in the other four occasions.

After Thursday's loss, coach Peter Laviolette talked about the difficult schedule, saying he didn't want to make excuses. But he did acknowledge that it has been difficult. Understanding his team has played more games than any NHL team, Laviolette said: "I guess what goes around comes around to everybody, so everybody will get theirs at some point."

The Flyers play the second game of their five-game homestand on Saturday at 1 p.m. against the Winnipeg Jets. It's a Winnipeg team against which the Flyers had one of their more impressive road performances, a 3-2 win on Feb. 12.

If the Flyers are to gain some needed momentum it will be without top line winger Matt Read, who is out six weeks with a muscle tear in his rib cage. Read and Jake Voracek share the team lead with seven goals.

The Flyers hope winger Scott Hartnell (broken foot) will return Wednesday against visiting Washington.

Regardless of who is in the lineup, what is most telling is that the Flyers have no trouble getting up for a rival such as Pittsburgh but have more difficultly with other opponents.

Wednesday's win over the Penguins was a spirited effort, and almost immediately afterward Laviolette said he talked about the need to have the same intensity for Florida.

It obviously didn't happen, something that captain Claude Giroux readily acknowledged after Thursday's loss.

"Playing Pittsburgh is always intense. We have big games in Florida, but it's just not the same, and we need to find a way to make it the same," Giroux said.

Notes. The Flyers sent left winger Tom Sestito to the Phantoms for a conditioning assignment. It's possible that Sestito could be back with the Flyers for Saturday's game. . . . Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who has started 17 of the Flyers' first 19 games, said he was "tired" during an interview Friday on WIP-FM (94.1).


Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @sjnard.

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