Alain Vigneault knows a playoff team when he sees one.
In 16 seasons as an NHL head coach, 11 have featured postseason berths, with eight of those teams advancing past the first round.
On Friday, he was well aware of the Flyers' inconsistencies on the road and what that could mean for a playoff-hopeful club. The road hazards did not improve Saturday night as the Flyers lost badly to the Sharks, 6-1, at SAP Center.
Timo Meier was a nightmare around the net for the Flyers. The 23-year-old put up a hat trick and owns six goals in seven career meetings with the orange and black.
The Flyers (21-12-5) saw the end of their four-game winning streak in which they yielded only seven goals.
The Sharks (17-20-3) were 1-8-2 over their previous 11 games before beating the Flyers, who are 2-7-2 in their last 11 trips to San Jose.
• Vigneault knows the Flyers must be better on the road if they want to make something out of this season.
At home, the Flyers have been one of the best, if not the best, in the NHL. On the road, it has been a different story. The Flyers are 8-10-1 with a minus-24 goal differential away from home.
The loss to the Sharks was the beginning of an important six-game road trip for Vigneault's bunch.
I like this, we’re going on the road for 12 days, we’ve got six big games," Vigneault said Friday. "As a team that considers themselves a playoff team, you need to have a good road record. It’s an opportunity for us to upgrade our road record, which is a game below .500 right now. It’s a good test, it’s a good challenge.
For me, there’s no road way or home way to play, there’s just one way to play and that’s the right way. And that’s what we have to figure out on the road.
• Carter Hart is a sparkling 11-1-2 with a 1.49 goals-against average and .947 save percentage at home.
On the road, he has been far from sharp. In 14 home games, Hart has surrendered only 21 goals. In 12 road games, he has allowed 36 goals.
Hart dropped to 2-7-1 away from home. He was off Saturday night and the Flyers didn't help him, either. Hart has to find his game outside of the Wells Fargo Center if the Flyers are going to improve.
The Sharks jumped out with a ton of energy after losing in overtime the night before on home ice. They outhit the Flyers 31-14 and were simply the better team. The Flyers, who want to dictate terms, were battling in their own end much of the night.
• Mario Ferraro and Joel Kellman scored San Jose's first two goals. Both tallies were the first of their respective NHL careers.
In the second period, Kellman inexcusably got behind the Flyers' defense to receive a stretch pass and beat Hart. Meier completed his hat trick with 7:08 left in the game and Patrick Marleau tacked on San Jose's sixth goal for good measure (see highlights).
• Justin Braun was a seventh-round pick of the Sharks and ended up playing 84 playoff games in San Jose.
On Saturday night, the 32-year-old defenseman played in San Jose as a visitor for the first time during his 10-year NHL career.
The Sharks and their fans gave him a well-deserved salute in the first period.
Performance-wise, Braun did not have a memorable return. Braun and Matt Niskanen were beaten on the Kellman goal. On San Jose's third goal, Meier deflected a shot right near Braun.
• Ivan Provorov got the Flyers on the board with a third-period power play goal. The 22-year-old leads all NHL defensemen with six man advantage markers.
But 45 seconds after Provorov's tally trimmed the Flyers' deficit to 3-1, the Sharks got the goal back, courtesy of Meier.
• The Flyers are right back at it Sunday when they visit the Ducks (8:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
For the second time in two weeks, the Flyers will have fewer than 24 hours between games of a back-to-back road set.
“I’m not crazy about the fact they’re making us again play back-to-back on not 24 hours, but 21, 22, but we’ve done it a few times this year," Vigneault said Friday. "I guess you’ve just got to get used to it.”
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