It was the perfect getaway at just the right time.
When the Flyers left Philadelphia on Oct. 27, their ears were still ringing from the deafening tone of boos heard throughout the Wells Fargo Center along with the scattered chants of “Fire Hakstol.” The charter couldn’t depart the Philadelphia International tarmac fast enough at the time.
“It was a long flight out here,” head coach Dave Hakstol told reporters Monday. “It seems like it was more than 10 days ago, but 10 days ago that was a long flight out here. It was a long couple of days leading up to that first game in Anaheim.”
The players talked all week how a cross-country getaway was the perfect way to end a three-game losing streak. Leave the distractions behind and focus on the simple task of playing good, solid hockey.
They separated business from pleasure. As friends, they palled around in the Hollywood Hills, dug their feet in the Santa Monica sand and took in some long, deep breaths in the Arizona desert. As teammates, the Flyers promptly took care of business, sweeping SoCal and earning seven out of a possible eight points in a near-perfect four-game road trip that was punctuated by a 5-2 win Monday over the Coyotes (see observations). In the process, the Flyers outscored their opponents 16-10.
It simply couldn’t have gone any better.
In just over 240 minutes of hockey, the Flyers never trailed at any point during these previous four games — a complete turnaround from having trailed at some point in each of their first 11 games of the season.
“We’re pretty happy about our road trip here,” Sean Couturier said. “But we can’t be satisfied. We’ve got to come back home and have a good stretch at home and build on this road trip and keep climbing in the standings.”
Ten days of beautiful, balmy 75-degree weather are coming to an abrupt end. The team will leave Phoenix and return to Philadelphia Tuesday afternoon, hoping this Western Conference swing galvanizes it for an upcoming five-game homestand at the Wells Fargo Center, where it will play seven of its next nine games.
After soaking up the summer vibes out West, the Flyers will now be greeted with an autumn-like chill where the leaves are changing and gray, gloomy skies are signs that we’re knee deep into fall weather. It’s the same kind of frigid reception that could be confronting them if they don’t bring back the same type of inspired hockey passionate fans had to stay up until midnight to watch.
There are no more getaways on the schedule until early December.
From West to back East, it can all go south in a hurry if the Flyers don’t change their ways on South Broad, where they seem to grip the sticks a little tighter and hang their heads a little lower when things don’t go their way. They’re 2-4-0 at home with a goal differential of minus-12. The power play is 1 for 15 over the last five games on home ice.
Even with their recent success, the Flyers are still just as close to the bottom of the Metropolitan Division as they are to the top.
“There’s nothing to get excited about right now,” general manager Ron Hextall told reporters before Monday's game.
Maybe not, but as of now, the Flyers are feeling as confident as they have since winning the season opener in Vegas a month ago.
Don’t go and ruin all of that goodwill on home ice.
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