New-look Flyers

Posted: November 14, 2013

OTTAWA - For the first time in 18 months, since they knocked off the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2012 playoffs, there was a buzz in the Flyers' locker room last night.

Mac Miller's "Knock, Knock" tune, the anthem of the last Flyers team with any swagger, was blaring in the locker room - because, well, Craig Anderson let 'em in.

The Flyers are finding out just how easy it is to win when their top scoring lines produce. Relieved after Claude Giroux' first goal of the season on Saturday, the once-mystifying Flyers offense toppled Ottawa, 5-0, for their second straight win.

Not surprisingly, the Flyers are 51-6-4 since 2010 when Giroux scores multiple points. He had two assists in front of friends and family in his offseason hometown.

"Your top lines have to score, that's the way it is," coach Craig Berube said. "They're starting to produce now and we're getting results because of it."

Steve Mason collected his first shutout as a Flyer, thanks to a disallowed goal in the third period. He still has not allowed more than three goals in a game since being acquired from Columbus last April, a string of 20 appearances.

"There are some nights when a goalie gets a shutout because they do a lot of the work, but this was a complete team effort," Mason said. "This was an extremely sound effort all around."

Don't look now, but the Flyers have piled up more points in the first 12 days of November (seven) than they accumulated in the entire month of October (six). The Flyers are 5-3-1 since their 1-7-0 start and are 6-7-1 overall under Berube.

As Berube has preached since his first day on Oct. 7, the Flyers created offense from their defense. Last night, they forced 20 turnovers but committed just five giveaways. Matt Read, who opened the scoring with a wraparound, noted the Flyers were more active with their sticks as Ottawa entered their zone.

"From a defensive standpoint, guys were really pressing on the backcheck to make sure they didn't give up many opportunities," Mason said. "This is a good game to have going into [tonight]."

This all sets up an interesting grudge match in Pittsburgh tonight, when the Flyers take on the Penguins on national television. The Flyers are 1-2 in the second game of back-to-back sets this season; they are 8-2-1 all-time in Consol Energy Center since it opened in 2010, including the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Flyers are brimming with confidence since their last matchup with Pittsburgh, a lopsided, 4-1 loss at Wells Fargo Center on Oct. 17. Mason could start again, though he hasn't started both games of a back-to-back set since he was with the Blue Jackets.

The Flyers have won both games since their players-only team meeting after last Thursday's shutout loss to New Jersey. A lot of that has to do with the offensive output; they've scored nine goals in their last two games after opening with 22 in their first 15.

"I think 'G' was putting too much pressure on himself, he's a great player and a great leader. He's the best player on our team, so obviously he wants to make a difference," said Jake Voracek, after scoring twice. "If he doesn't, he's very hard on himself. Now we can tell he's playing with a little less pressure. I don't care who you are, it's a monkey off your back when you score."

Now, there is a completely different feel about the Flyers. There was no hint of a letdown in the third period, something they rarely have been able to avoid this season.

"The way we're playing, we're playing as a team," Giroux said. "We're playing the way we should be playing. When the puck goes in, that's when the confidence goes up. I really believe when we play as a team, we're responsible and we make the right plays, we're a dangerous team."

It is just two games. No one is willing to completely declare the Flyers have righted their ship and they've turned the corner to charge up the weak Metropolitan Division standings.

Something just feels different, hearing that swagger-inducing "Knock, Knock" again.

"The last two games, we were very solid and we've made a difference," Voracek said. "But we've got to do it every night."

Defenseman Nick Grossmann left the game after taking just one shift in the third period. With the Flyers leading 3-0, Grossmann was kept out of the game for rest purposes. He was battling the flu, which sidelined forward Michael Raffl. The Flyers said Grossmann will be available tonight in Pittsburgh . . . Last night marked the Flyers' first regular-season shutout against Ottawa since Jan. 18, 1999, a 5-0 win for John Vanbiesbrouck . . . Scott Hartnell's assist on Jake Voracek's second-period goal snapped a 38-game skid without an assist. He also led the team with six shots.


On Twitter: @DNFlyers

Blog: ph.ly/FrequentFlyers

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