Does 8-4-1 sound familiar?
The Flyers have been here before.
Last season, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, they went on a five-game winning streak. After 13 games, the Flyers' record was a welcomed 8-4-1, the exact mark they hold right now as they enter this weekend's back-to-back road games with another five-game winning streak.
Unfortunately, last year, they followed that streak by winning only three times in the next 10 games. It cost coach John Stevens his job.
And that was just the beginning of a downward spiral that sent the Flyers to last place in the Atlantic Division and 14th place in the 15-team Eastern Conference.
"This is the test," Chris Pronger said. "Do you get comfortable and complacent? Or do you keep plugging on? You're going to lose the odd game here and there, but you've got to give yourself a chance to win every night. Lately, we've been doing that."
It will be a true test in the sense that the Flyers are beginning a tough stretch in their schedule while trying to overcome the complacency that cost them dearly last season. In a 7-month season, it isn't always easy to get juiced up for every game, especially in back-to-back games as the Flyers have on the road this weekend - tonight on Long Island and tomorrow night in Washington.
November features three sets of back-to-back games. Overall, the Flyers play 16 sets this season, which is just slightly above the league average of 15.8. The Flyers are putting extra emphasis on back-to-back games, since they account for a chunk of 32 games, or 40 percent of the schedule.
"Every team is going to have those, with the way the schedule is compressed," Pronger said. "That's the nature of the beast. Teams that win are the ones that play as consistent as possible. You need to throw the same thing at a team every single night."
Braydon Coburn said the Flyers' depth this season will pay off in those tough settings. He said they need to cut down on mental mistakes, which happen when fatigue starts to set in.
"You've got to have good depth," Coburn said. "If you're only playing two lines in that first game, it will almost be impossible to bounce back for the second game. You've got to be smart. You don't want to be stretching yourself too thin."
For the Flyers, the writing is on the wall. History, it's said, has a tendency to repeat itself - unless someone puts a stop to it.
"Lately, the consistency has been there," Pronger said. "But the trick is to do it for more than three or four games. It's a year-long process. We've got a different team now. We have experience, we went through it already."
Dan Carcillo said he was relieved to not receive a call from Colin Campbell, the NHL's dean of discipline, yesterday after making contact with New York's Ruslan Fedotenko's head Thursday night.
Given Carcillo's history - he was suspended on two occasions last year for a total of six games - and the league's crackdown on hits to the head, it was a bit of a surprise Campbell didn't ring up Carcillo.
"No news is good news," Carcillo said. "The puck was there and I just kind of took the body. There's nothing much else to it. It seemed like he was falling. [If] he was up, it would've been a regular hit."
Sergei Bobrovsky figures to make his sixth straight start tonight on Long Island as the Flyers go for their sixth straight win. Coach Peter Laviolette could choose to start Brian Boucher tomorrow in Washington, more likely if the Flyers lose tonight . . . Forward Andreas Nodl is ready to return to the lineup. He missed the last two games with a shoulder injury but scored his second goal of the season last week against the Islanders . . . Nodl's return could mean the end of rookie Eric Wellwood's run with the Flyers. Laviolette said it comes down to a numbers game with Wellwood, who made his NHL debut on Monday and had seven shots in two games.
For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at
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