On western trip, Flyers reverse road woes

Claude Giroux watches the winning shot by Flyers teammate Jake Voracek get past Phoenix goalie Mike Smith, to the dismay of Keith Yandle (3).
Claude Giroux watches the winning shot by Flyers teammate Jake Voracek get past Phoenix goalie Mike Smith, to the dismay of Keith Yandle (3). (ROSS D. FRANKLIN / Associated Press)
Posted: January 07, 2014

GLENDALE, Ariz. - The Flyers grew up.

That's the CliffsNotes version of what happened during the western part of their six-game road trip.

They showed great resilience as they went 4-1 - posting wins in Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, and Phoenix, while losing in Colorado - and climbing into second place in the Metropolitan Division. They wiped out third-period deficits in three of the four victories.

When the journey started in frigid Edmonton, the Flyers had a five-game losing streak on the road.

"I thought this trip changed our road mentality a little bit," coach Craig Berube said after Saturday's 5-3 comeback win over Phoenix. "I didn't think we were that good on the road before this trip, but we turned that around."

The Flyers, who will practice in Voorhees on Monday before finishing the trip in New Jersey on Tuesday, swept their Western Canada opponents on the road for just the second time in franchise history and the first time since 1996.

They overcame two-goal deficits in wins over Edmonton and Phoenix - the latter win was without injured wingers Matt Read and Michael Raffl - and they also recorded their first back-to-back shootout victories for the second time in their history. In the Steve Mason-led shootout victory over Vancouver, they tied the score on Brayden Schenn's goal with 46.8 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Flyers overcame 2-0 and 3-1 deficits against the Coyotes.

"They are a big, heavy team, and when you allow them to get momentum, they come at you hard," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said.

The Flyers (21-17-4) are 10-10-4 on the road.

"I think we played a real team road trip," said Berube, whose team has notched wins by overcoming five third-period deficits in the last month. "Everybody contributed and did a lot of good things."

Since their 1-7 start, the Flyers have gone 20-10-4 - and have specialized in comebacks.

"I think we learned the hard way at the start of the year," said captain Claude Giroux, who has 18 points, including seven goals, in his last 12 games. "Even if we're down a couple of goals, we stay with the system, we stay with the way we're playing. We play a patient game and play the way we should."

The offense has come alive since a dismal start. The Flyers averaged 1.47 goals in their first 15 games and 3.3 goals in their last 27.

No one is more appreciative than Mason.

In the beginning of the season, the goalie said, "you almost felt like you had to be perfect" in the net because of the lack of goal support. "Now, I think myself and Razor [Ray Emery] know if we give up a goal that this team is going to come back for us."

The offensive output has helped Mason relax.

"There's enough pressure to be consistent," he said, referring to the goalies. "But when you know that your team has the ability to come back from one or two goals - or even three sometimes - you're going to be able to play with a little bit more of a calm in your game, and that's a nice feeling."

The Flyers will conclude their trip against ageless former teammate Jaromir Jagr (13 goals, 34 points, plus-11) and the division-rival Devils on Tuesday.



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