New Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said he needs more from the team’s two highest-paid players, veteran forwards Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek.
He also referred to the inconsistent goaltending the Flyers received in the first 11 games.
“What is true about our team is no different than any other team,” Vigneault said after practice Thursday in Voorhees. "We need goaltending. We need our top players to lead the way for us. Lead the way by how they’re supposed to play and how they have to play on the ice.
We need G [Giroux] to be a top-end performer like he’s been for the past few years. I need Jake to be a top-end performer like he’s been for the past few years.
“And I’m very confident that’s going to be the case.”
Giroux, who has two goals and seven points in 11 games, was critical of himself and the other veterans after the Flyers’ embarrassing 7-1 loss in Pittsburgh Tuesday.
“It starts with the older guys. I’ve got to be better; the veterans need to be better. We need to be ready for these games,” he said.
The Flyers (5-5-1), outscored by a combined 12-4 in losses to the Islanders and Penguins in the last two games, play Friday in New Jersey (2-5-3).
Said Vigneault: “Playing the right way starts with your top players. It starts with their leadership, their involvement in making sure everyone is dialed in and tuned in. That goes from Kevin Hayes to Jake to G to Coots [Sean Couturier]. Those are the guys we look to for guidance. ...
"If I’m a teammate in this room, I want those guys to step up and show us the way. Before those last two games, were were on the right track. We had that little blip in the road, and hopefully [Friday] we’re back to how we were playing before.”
On Thursday, the Flyers recalled three young players from the Phantoms: center German Rubtsov, winger Carsen Twarynski, and defenseman Phil Myers.
Vigneault and general manager Chuck Fletcher said recalling players wasn’t a message they were sending to the veterans, claiming it was unrelated.
But Hayes said it “sends a message that there are guys in Lehigh that want to play in the NHL. It’s just a reminder to the so-called regulars up here that we have to stay focused and you have to bring the energy every day, because if you don’t, something like what happened in Pittsburgh is bound to happen."
The blowout loss to the Penguins “was a slap in the face, but I think we’re going to handle it the right way,” Hayes added. “Some leaders who have been here for a while, they know how to handle it and to make sure it never happens again.”
Hayes said he didn’t think the coaches were directly sending a message to the team by putting the three recalled players into the lineup Friday in New Jersey. “But it’s just a friendly reminder that there are guys down there that are good enough to play in this league, and if you don’t do your job, you’re not going to be here for a while.”
Fletcher likes the way Vigneault holds the players accountable.
“That’s one of his strengths,” Fletcher said. “I think it’s an experienced, veteran coaching staff that has seen most situations in the league. I think they’ve done a very good job of holding guys accountable and sending a message, and I think for the most part this year, we’ve done the right things more games than not. The last two obviously have been disappointing. I’m sure Alain has spoken to that.”