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Flyers finish brutal opening run of road games

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby lifts the stick of the Flyers' Max Talbot on a second-period breakaway Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.

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Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

The Flyers are finished.

This game Wednesday night against the Penguins at Consol Energy Center wrapped a brutal early-season stretch that featured 12 of 18 on the road, including the past six contests.

“Personally, I liked it,” center Zac Rinaldo said. “My personality is go-go-go, so I'm comfortable with that.”

The Flyers, though, were in an uncomfortable position before facing the Penguins — 10th in the Eastern Conference, two points from a playoff spot, and with at least two more games played than four clubs ahead of them in the standings.

Another way to look at it is that the Flyers have only 30 more games to play during this truncated NHL season.

However, 18 of those will be staged at Wells Fargo Center, where the Flyers are 4-1-1.

“We're still trying to get in sync here a little bit,” center Danny Briere said. “It still seems we've been inconsistent at times. That's probably the most frustrating part.”

The Flyers did not lack for reasons to feel frustrated through the first third of their schedule:

• Only 10 players were at even-or-better plus/minus ratings.

• First-year captain Claude Giroux, the NHL's third-leading scorer last season, had gone without a point in nine games.

• Center Max Talbot, who notched 19 goals in his debut with the Flyers last season, was without a marker.

• The power play, sixth at 19.7 percent last season, was just off that success rate at 19.1 percent, but only 11th overall.

Talbot said there were “a lot of” similarities between these Flyers and the group that upended the Penguins in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs last April.

He also conceded there were “a couple” of differences.

Veteran right winger Jaromir Jagr left as a free agent. Injuries depleted a defense that already lacked a menacing presence. Left winger Scott Hartnell, with 61 goals to his credit the past two seasons, had been limited to only three games.

“We want to play the same way, and we haven't changed much of what we've been doing,” Talbot said, ignoring a report Monday in the Philadelphia Daily News that noted significant tweaks to coach Peter Laviolette's system.

The Flyers face the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. It will wrap their sixth instance of games on consecutive nights.

Laviolette noted that a road game will have been part of that mix each time.

The Penguins play games on consecutive nights only seven times during the season.

Getting home should help calm any nerves, Rinaldo said.

Still, even a stretch of games in Philadelphia is not ideal.

“For the most part guys like being in one spot,” Rinaldo said. “For me, I think better players play better on the road.”

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

 

 

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