Flyers figuring out how to win close games
The Flyers have recently discovered a way to win close games. "I think it is just trusting each other out there and being more confident," center Sean Couturier said. "We are getting more comfortable in those games. We aren't getting as frustrated as maybe we used to. When we're composed and in control of ourselves, we play better."
The Flyers have recently discovered a way to win close games.
"I think it is just trusting each other out there and being more confident," center Sean Couturier said. "We are getting more comfortable in those games. We aren't getting as frustrated as maybe we used to. When we're composed and in control of ourselves, we play better."
Excluding empty-netters that made the final margin a two-goal difference, the Flyers are 6-2 in one-goal games since Nov. 27.
Overall, they will take a 7-2-1 run into Saturday night's game in Columbus, a team that handed them a 4-1 loss Dec. 5.
"Lately, we are trusting each other, playing the system the right way and we're getting good results," said Couturier, whose surging team (14-12-6) entered Friday just two points out of a playoff spot.
"We're not hitting the panic button," captain Claude Giroux said.
Coach Dave Hakstol hinted he will use the same lineup Saturday that produced a 2-0 win over Vancouver on Thursday.
Steve Mason made 36 saves Thursday and notched his second shutout of the season.
Mason, however, has struggled against the Blue Jackets, perhaps because he gets overhyped trying to show they made a mistake by demoting him (behind Sergei Bobrovsky) and then trading him to the Flyers.
In six career games against Columbus, Mason is 2-3-1 with a 3.21 goals-against average and .891 save percentage. He was a 4-1 loser to the Blue Jackets on Dec. 5 at the Wells Fargo Center.
"I don't think that will be part of the decision overall," said Hakstol when asked about Saturday's starter. "I don't think it will complicate things too much."
In other words, Hakstol likes to stay with a hot goalie.
Michal Neuvirth is rested and ready to go. He has not faced Columbus this season, but is 2-0 with a 2.45 GAA and .929 save percentage in his career against the Jackets. Neuvirth leads the NHL with a .937 save percentage this season.
The Blue Jackets (12-19-3) snapped a five-game losing streak with a wild 7-5 win in Arizona on Thursday. They won without top-line center Ryan Johansen, who was (stunningly) a healthy scratch, and three key players who are injured: Bobrovsky and defensemen Jack Johnson and David Savard.
Hakstol acknowledged that defenseman Luke Schenn and Sam Gagner have recovered from injuries and are ready to play, but he doesn't seem to want to tinker with a successful lineup.
"We're winning games right now," he said. "We'll weigh everything and make the right decision for our team."