Inconsistent Flyers Looking for a Spark

Robert SkorochockiContributor IMarch 23, 2009

Since a five-game win streak was snapped on Dec. 18 for the Philadelphia Flyers, we have seen a fair share of various winning and losing streaks.

Entering tonight’s game against the Atlantic Division-leading New Jersey Devils, the Flyers once again are on a small streak.  After wrapping up a season sweep of the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night, the Flyers dismantled the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon in large part to a tremendous effort from goaltender Martin Biron.

However, since Christmas, the Flyers have been a very inconsistent team.

Looking at the schedule, the Flyers have only had one three-game win streak since Christmas and the rest are back and forth W’s and L’s.

Last Sunday at Madison Square Garden after defeating the Rangers 4-2 the day before, the Flyers came out lopsided and lazy and were easily defeated 4-1 at the expense of Sean Avery.

After Scott Hartnell and Joffrey Lupul gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead in Motown on Tuesday with just under a few minutes to play in the second period, the Flyers ended up losing to a very solid Detroit Red Wings team 3-2 in regulation.

With two tough road games ahead on the schedule, it looked very possible the Flyers were going to start streaking in the wrong way. 

After a strong effort from Danny Briere on Friday night and from Biron yesterday, it seems that the Flyers once again could go on a run, this time in the right direction.

Is it just me, or is this team hard to get a grip on?

There are nights I think the Flyers could contend for the Cup and then there are days like last Sunday at Madison Square Garden when it seems like the Flyers could be one and done in the playoffs.

Ironically, if the Flyers win Game One of their first-round playoff series (which yesterday might have been a preview of), and then lose one game and keep going back and forth, they will be Stanley Cup champions. 

So in reality, is inconsistency that bad of a thing?

Before the Friday night’s tussle with Derek Roy and the Sabres, head coach John Stevens shuffled up his lines for the first time in a few months.  We are all used to Gagne-Richards-Knuble and the “Sky Line” of Hartnell-Carter-Lupul. Both of those lines have shined at times this season, but I feel the re-shuffling done by Stevens is a perfect example of why he is turning into one of the elite coaches in this league.

Stuck in a rut for three months, not being able to go on a long winning streak, I feel tonight’s matchup with the Devils is the perfect one for the Flyers.  If you subtract last Sunday’s game at the Garden, I felt the Flyers had an extremely successful road trip.

In addition, it looks pretty transparent that Biron will once again deservingly be the man to backstop the Flyers in the playoffs and tonight is a great test for him.  Biron hasn’t been the greatest back-to-back goalie as a Flyer, although he did win Game Seven of last year’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Capitals on back-to-back nights.

I’m a firm believer that the hottest team entering the playoffs has a great shot of making a run.

Last year, the Flyers ended their season 7-1-1.

I think a similar finish from this point on is needed if the Flyers want to raise the first Cup since 1975.