The Philadelphia Flyers have always been an organization that is widely considered as a classy, and respectful club.
If there is one thing that separates them from the Phillies, the cowards who reside at the NovaCare center, and the Sixers, its their ability to own up to their downfalls and criticize when needed.
That is exactly what happened yesterday.
GM Paul Holmgren publicly criticized his team and is not asking, but demanding his squad to step up and play Flyers hockey.
The Flyers, who now trail the Carolina Hurricanes for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference, will play host tonight in the second half of a home-and-home series with Toronto.
"We're at a critical point," said Holmgren. "We're in a playoff position now, but based on how we're playing, it's certainly not a sure thing, and we need to play better."
Holmgren called his leadership group first and foremost. Guys like captain Mike Richards, Mike Knuble, and Jeff Carter were told to step up their games and play like they have all season.
After all, this is when it really counts.
"They've done their share for most of the season," Richards said. "They've played fairly consistently, but now it's all about sealing the deal and getting ourselves into a sure playoff position."
"Until you see that little letter next to your name in the standings (clinching a playoff spot) in the papers, there's no sense feeling comfortable because the league is too tight," Holmgren added.
Coach John Stevens was quick to point out that playing catch-up all the time will eventually lead to playing on your heels and making bad decisions with the puck.
Stevens also said his team is going to have to play with a 'backs against the wall' mentality, which is precisely what is team was forced to do last season.
"It seems like when our backs are to the wall, we respond," Stevens said. "The same thing happened last year. When we had to win games, we did."
Captain Mike Richards said that it starts with execution, and everything else will take care of itself.
"We're chasing the game right now because we're not making these little plays," Richards said. "Once we start executing better and putting pucks on the tape, start focusing on the smaller parts of the game rather than the big picture, we should be fine."
You're mostly on the right track, Richie. Let me help you though.
First, it would be helpful to come out and look like a team that is going to play hard and show who the superior team is right off the bat. Then we talk about execution.
As I stated earlier, its all about accountability, legitimate blame, and this team shows that they know there is an issue and they know to own up to it. Now, like they always seem to do, the Flyers will have to correct those problems and gain back their chance at home-ice advantage.
Goaltender Martin Biron, who was pulled in Wednesday's game in Toronto, will get another crack at the Leafs as he will get the start tonight.
Last season, the Flyers went 7-1-1 during the final nine games to clinch the sixth seed to get into the playoffs.
Fast forward a year, and only five points separate the Flyers and the No 8 seed Florida Panthers.
Things have to change, and it has to begin tonight at the Wachovia Center.
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