The Philadelphia Flyers are one of the best home-ice teams in the NHL this season, but the road hasn’t been nearly as kind.
As the Flyers drop the puck on a six-game road swing against the Sharks in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday, they do so looking to climb to .500 away from the City of Brotherly Love.
Not only is this sojourn a chance to change those road fortunes, but a golden opportunity for the Flyers to solidify their hold on a playoff spot. However, it’s quite a challenge.
“I don’t see any difficulty really. I like this trip … we’re going on the road for 12 days, we have six big games,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault, whose team is 8-9-1 on the road, told reporters this week. “As a team that considers themselves a playoff team, you need to have a good road record, so it’s an opportunity to upgrade our road record, which is a game below .500 right now, so it’s a good test.”
Certainly, the Flyers will have an opportunity to quickly change their road fortunes, as they clash with the Anaheim Ducks less than 24 hours after facing the Sharks.
“I’m not crazy about the fact that they’re making us again play back-to-back in (less than) 24-hours, 21, 22,” said Vigneault, whose club is 13-2-4 at home. “But we’ve done it a few times this year, so I guess you just gotta get used to it.”
The Flyers will receive one boost for the game. Forward Scott Laughton appears poised to return after missing five games due to a pulled groin.
“We’ll see, a three-day break with kind of a fragile injury, so I have to see with all the travel,” said Laughton, who skated on a line with Morgan Frost and Jakub Voracek in Friday’s practice. “It’s feeling better and better every day, that’s all I can say.”
San Jose is coming off a disappointing 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Friday, a game in which the Sharks blew a 2-0 third-period lead.
The Sharks are on a four-game losing skid and have just one win in 11 outings (1-8-2), which has dropped them to the bottom of the Western Conference standings. The losing skid cost coach Pete DeBoer his job, and interim bench boss Bob Boughner isn’t having much luck changing the club’s fortunes.
“Tonight in a nutshell, real simple, some guys have got to look in the mirror and put it on themselves,” Boughner said after the latest loss. “You can’t dress 12 forwards and have eight or nine show up. That was the problem tonight.”
Amidst his team’s latest third-period meltdown — San Jose has been outscored by a 53-27 margin in third periods this season — Boughner benched a couple of veterans, Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc, for the final 13 minutes of the clash.
“We had to shorten our bench and we had a couple guys not sticking with the structure, not playing within the team system,” Boughner said. “They know who they are. It’s a wake-up call for a couple of guys in that room right now.”
–Field Level Media