Over the course of an 82-game NHL season there are going to be ups and downs. So often we hear from players in all sports how it’s important not to get too excited about the highs and not get too down about the lows and keep that even keel. In the first month of the season for the Flyers, there were lots of lows, and almost nothing to be happy about.
Three games into the season, Peter Laviolette was fired after a 0-3 start in which the Flyers were outplayed and showing no life whatsoever. Ed Snider then sounded off at a press conference saying that the organization did not need a culture change when asked why they choose to promote Craig Berube from assistant coach to interim head coach as opposed to bringing in a new voice from outside of the organization.
In the beginning of the Berube era, it certainly looked like Snider was wrong and that an outside voice would have been better as the coaching change didn’t seem to spark the orange and black as they got off to their worst start in franchise history at 1-7.
It looked as if a 7-0 loss to Washington on November 1 was rock bottom as fans began to call for general manager Paul Holmgren's head and chants of “Fire Holmgren” serenaded throughout the Wells Fargo Center. However, late in that game a scrum broke out and multiple players on each team dropped the gloves and received fighting majors.
| Tim Mihalek|
Emery puts his finishing touches on Holtby.
What seemed to stand out in all of this was goaltender Ray Emery skating to the other end of the ice to go get Washington net minder Braden Holtby. While Holtby did not seem to comply, Emery proceeded to bludgeon his counterpart time and time again in what appeared to be an effort to light a fire under the rest of the Flyers.
Fast forward just over three weeks and here we are on November 25, 2013 with the Flyers at .500 for the first time all season and only two points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern conference heading into tonight’s game in Sunrise against the Florida Panthers. Since that 7-0 beat down they took on November 1, the Flyers are 7-1-2. Emery himself has played a big role in the hot streak shutting out the Devils one night after his fight with Holtby, and played his best game of the season against the Penguins in a 2-1 win in Pittsburgh.
| CBS Sports|
Giroux smiles after his first goal of the season
in a 5-2 win against Edmonton.
The other goalie, Steve Mason, who had been playing well earlier in the season when the Flyers couldn’t help him out and score goals, has continued his strong play between the pipes. Mason has won four of his last five decisions and has allowed two goals or fewer in every one of his starts since the November 1 game against Washington.
While it’s clear the Flyers have raised their level, there are still 60 games left in the season. There’s a lot of hockey yet to be played. But if it weren’t for this recent stretch of victories, who knows what would be happening right now. The coaching change did not seem to turn things around right away as I’m sure Holmgren and Snider thought it would. Maybe Emery’s self-provided spark was just what the doctor order. All things so far seem to indicate as such.