Effort Questioned After Flyers’ Fifth Loss of Season to Rangers
Photo Courtesy of AP/Yahoo Sports
By Charlie O’Connor (@THG_Charlie)
Same story, same result. And Kimmo Timonen, for one, has had just about enough.
For the fifth time in the 2011-12 regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers faced their division rival, the New York Rangers, in a battle for Eastern Conference supremacy. And for a fifth straight time, the Flyers found themselves on the short end of the scoresheet, losing 5-2 at the Wells Fargo Center.
Timonen gave a simple reason for his team’s inability to defeat the Rangers: effort. Or to be precise, a lack thereof.
“Little disappointed in the effort, actually,” Timonen vented after the game. “To be honest, I think we have half the guys going, half the guys not.”
The Flyers allowed three power play goals to the Rangers, who entered the game with the fourth-worst power play in the NHL. Timonen did not downplay the importance of special teams in the loss.
“It was a big game for us, and I was expecting more. And obviously it was a tight game, but they had three power plays goals and we didn’t score any. Obviously, it came down to special teams.”
Still, he felt that reasons for the loss went deeper than mere special teams breakdowns.
“I think everybody realized we could have played better. Obviously it was a tight game, but still, I felt like we could have pushed more and pressured more, but they got another two points.”
He also voiced concerns regarding the team’s inconsistency.
“Sometimes we go up and down, and then you lose games. And that’s not the way championship teams play. We just need everyone going at the same time. We just can’t have one or two lines going, and four defensemen or whatever. We need everybody in form here. And this is the time of year you need everybody going.”
Coach Peter Laviolette and top scorer Claude Giroux were less critical, but still rightfully concerned about the team’s play. Laviolette in particular blanched at the Flyers’ play in the third period.
“For me, I guess I’ll be uneasy with the third period. We let up two even strength goals where we turned the first puck over and just weren’t strong enough in our end. The second one, we weren’t strong enough in front of our net. I think that’s the turning point for me, from there we didn’t seem to have any more jump.”
Giroux noted the Flyers’ inability to win puck possession battles as a key reason for the loss.
“We lost a lot of battles tonight. Those one-on-one battles, you have to make sure you win them. You can’t be soft.”
The loss of captain Chris Pronger’s physical play and leadership has been often cited as a reason for the Flyers’ occasional defensive struggles. But Timonen refused to use Pronger’s injury as an excuse for his team’s poor play.
“[Pronger’s] not here. And we all should get by that by now. He’s not coming back. Obviously we’d be more than happy to take him back, but he’s not here. Would he say something? I don’t know. Who knows?”
Despite the rigorous post-game self-examination, the Flyers still believe that lack of talent has not caused their season-long struggles versus the Rangers.
“Talent? It comes down to effort, and talent, and everything,” Timonen said. “I don’t think there’s much skill level difference from bottom team to top team. It comes down to the system, how you execute the system, how do you play every night.”
Laviolette was even more blunt.
“Do I feel like we have enough talent to win? Yeah, I do,” he remarked.
But the questions of effort remain, and will linger until the team finally defeats their blueshirted rivals.
“You have to bring it every night,” Timonen said. “I don’t care who you are. You’re 18 or 48 – doesn’t matter to me. Every game matters, and you have to bring it.”