Ed Snider calls California trip a "turnaround" for Flyers
LOS ANGELES — Flyers chairman Ed Snider conceded that maybe he was the good luck charm.
After all, Snider spends much of his year at his Montecito, Calif., home and rarely misses a Flyers trip to Staples Center.
The Flyers are a sparkling 8-1-1 in downtown Los Angeles since the building opened in 1999 - their only regulation loss more than a decade ago in 2003.
"Maybe I am," Snider said, laughing. "Although, why aren't I at home (in Philadelphia)?"
Snider, 81, smiled and congratulated his players. The locker room visit, which plays out frequently throughout the season, would've had a far different feel if the Flyers hadn't hung on for a 2-1 victory over the defending champion Kings.
The Flyers finished their three-game swing through California with a respectable 1-1-1 mark. The five other Eastern Conference teams to run the same gamut this season have a combined record of 6-9-0 against three of the league's best teams, leaving Snider with a sense optimism after his team began the trip reeling.
"I think you have to look at this as a turnaround for us," Snider said. "I think it's a very successful trip. I mean, when you think in terms of how we were playing and what could have happened … I'm very pleased with what I've seen. You come into this building, it's tough, no matter who you are."
Many players said the visit to California last February was what saved their season. They became the first team in 11 tries last year to win two games in regulation on the trip.
Eleven and a half seconds in San Jose is what separated the Flyers from finishing with four or more points in the three games this time around.
"It could have been a great trip," Steve Mason said.
"We were hoping for a good trip," Snider said. "We had a pretty good trip, it could've been better if we hadn't given up that goal with (11.5) seconds to go, we would not have lost in regulation to any of these teams."
The Flyers stayed Saturday night in Santa Monica before boarding their chartered flight to Columbus. They'll wrap up their five-game trip with the Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.
The Flyers, who have another trip out West remaining this month alone, went 45 days between road wins. That the Kings served as their slump-buster wasn't lost on Mason.
"These guys are a measuring stick for the entire league right now," Mason said. "They've been a model of consistency for the last two years. We lingered too long (between wins). We put ourselves in a pretty decent hole when you look at the standings. We've got to start putting together wins and keep this going."
Snider admitted it "was difficult to lose." The Flyers (9-13-4) are six points out of a playoff spot with 56 games remaining in the season - and Snider believes his team is talented enough to dig themselves out.
"I definitely do. It's early," Snider said. "I've got a lot of confidence in our players. We've got a lot of good kids. I'm very much behind what (GM Ron Hextall) is doing, I was from the get-go. I love his plan. I think he's doing a great job and I'm looking forward to what's going on in the future. We're just going to get better and better, I think."
Given the elite opponents, and the disastrous start in the Shark Tank, the trip had the probability to be more Pacific Coast Highway mudslide than pucks and sunshine. The Bruins, for instance, lost all three games in regulation to the California teams this week.
"This is a tough road trip, it really is, they're hard teams to play against," coach Craig Berube said. "We matched them, in my opinion. I think we played really good hockey on this road trip, to be honest with you. We went in San Jose, (came out) deserving of points. We made a bad mistake at a bad time. We went to Anaheim and battled hard against a real good hockey team and got a point. We lost in a shootout. And won a game today. We did a lot of good things."
TRIANGLE OF DEATH
Seven teams have now completed a three-game swing through California this season, playing all three teams in succession on one trip. Here's how they've fared against the Kings, Ducks and Sharks:
> Panthers: 2-1-0
> Islanders: 2-1-0
> Canucks: 2-1-0
> Flyers: 1-1-1
> Blue Jackets: 1-2-0
> Sabres: 1-2-0
> Bruins: 0-3-0
Combined record: 9-11-1
On Twitter: @frank_seravalli