New Year’s Day has long been that one day of self reflection while providing an opportunity to find the necessary improvements to bottle into a New Year’s resolution.
Collectively, the Flyers are no different.
Identifying a team identity would serve as a good starting point. So what is that identity?
“That’s a tough question,” said goaltender Brian Elliott, who's playing on his third different team in three years. “I think we know that we can play with and beat any team. We’re right there in that wild-card race and we have to keep inching up. There’s going to be a lot of three-point games and you can’t just win one and lose one. That’s not going to do it in this league.
“I think we’re still trying to find what our identity is,” said forward Dale Weise. “One night when you see in Tampa that we can compete with anybody in the league, and then the next night, no disrespect to Buffalo, we can get dominated by some teams down in the standings. I think going forward we need to find what that identity is and find some consistency.”
More importantly, is that identity passed down from management and the coaching staff or is it developed internally from the leadership group to where it spreads throughout the entire organization?
“It’s probably a two-way street,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “I think everybody has to do their part in building that identity. This is a group that has success through its depth. That identity hasn’t wavered or changed. We went through a real tough stretch where we couldn’t get the results, but that still didn’t change the identity of our team.”
The Flyers may have a positive outlook for 2018, but to produce better outcomes, it’s essential to learn and correct the mistakes from 2017, which saw the Flyers finish the calendar year with a 35-33-14 record, or 84 points in 82 games.
And now they embark on a pivotal four-game homestand vs. Pittsburgh, the New York Islanders, St. Louis and Buffalo where points will be at a premium. The Pens and Isles are both ahead of the Flyers in the wild-card hunt. The Sabres currently have the fewest points in the East. And while the Blues are a formidable foe, the Flyers shut them out earlier in the year out in St. Louis.
This is where some consistency would be a huge boost.
“First 38 games (this season) we’ve been very inconsistent. When you look at the winning and losing, that’s obvious. Even when you’re having a bad day, you have to find a way,” said forward Jake Voracek. “We know we can come back at any time. Obviously, we were short in Buffalo and we were short in Florida, but in some games when we're down 3-0 to get some of those points. So I’d say that identity is that we really never give up.”
Flyers prefer the warmth
With the 10th anniversary of the Winter Classic outdoor game and the Flyers' upcoming game against the Penguins, it’s a reminder how those two factors will merge next season when the Flyers host the Pens at Lincoln Financial Field on Feb. 23, 2019.
Despite early morning temperatures in the single digits, it was still a balmy 16 degrees at puck drop between the Sabres and Rangers at Citi Field in NYC, making it the second coldest outdoor game in NHL history.
As a kid, Claude Giroux would skate outdoors on the pond in Northern Ontario in temperatures that were minus-30 to minus-40.
“When you’re a kid, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re cold or not, you just play through it. You’re just having so much fun, the weather’s not really an issue,” said Giroux.
As far as next season’s game against Pittsburgh?
“A little bit of cold. The wind makes a big difference. When you’re skating on one side, you’re going way faster from when you’re skating on the other side. I actually enjoy a little bit of snow,” Giroux said. “I think when we played in Pittsburgh there was a little bit of snow.”
World Junior Championships snow?
“That was too much snow,” Giroux said followed by smile.
A better Provorov?
Prior to the Flyers’ New Year’s Day workout, Ivan Provorov’s younger brother, nine-year-old Vladimir, was going through a rigorous workout with father Vladimir, who was barking out instruction in Russian. Ivan’s brother was skating around cones while shooting through a small gap near the cross bar with one net lodged against the other.
“He’s pretty good. I think he’s definitely ahead of where I was at 9 years old,” said Ivan. “He skates two or three times a day when he has a chance, watches highlights and just loves hockey.”
Ivan says the younger Vladimir has an advantage since his father was able to experiment with Ivan growing up in Yaroslavl, Russia before Ivan left to play in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania at age 13.
“I think it’s the same way, except now, he sort of knows what works and how and which way to push and in which direction,” said Ivan. “I think he knows right now which way to go.”
Vladimir currently plays forward and wants to follow in Ivan’s footsteps, but not for some time. He won’t be NHL draft eligible until 2026.