Defense continues to pick up the slack for Flyers

Defense continues to pick up the slack for Flyers
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The Flyers are dedicated to playing tight defense.

Even if the offense is struggling, as it has the last couple of weeks, they expect to stick to the plan.

For proof, look no further than the past 10 games when they’ve scored a combined 15 goals. Until Wayne Simmonds scored in overtime in their 2-1 win over the Sharks on Saturday, they had been shutout in back-to-back games last Saturday and Tuesday – it was the first time they had been blanked two games in a row at home since 1999 – and scored just once in a loss to the Islanders on Thursday..

Despite the lack of goals, they have refused the temptation to abandon their style of play.

“I think it shows that the guys are buying in and we believe in how we play,” captain Claude Giroux said following Saturday’s game, which wrapped up a 2-2-1 home stand. “We just need to keep working and we have our game plan out there before each game and we follow it. That’s going to give us the best chance to win every game.”

While the goals have been at a premium, the Flyers are doing an excellent job keeping pucks out of their own net. They’ve allowed 18 regulation goals in the last 10 games and just seven in the last five.

“You kind of have to expect that collectively as a team,” defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “That’s how you plan to play as a team. You have to commit to the structure.”

Simmonds doesn’t believe it’s hard to retain that defensive approach when pucks aren’t going in at the other end of the ice.

“It’s not difficult. I think going down the stretch into the playoffs we have to be tight defensively,” he said. “The goals haven’t been coming for us but, if we hang in there and play the way we have been playing and keep getting pucks to the net and keep getting to the hard areas and commit ourselves to increasing goals, we should be fine.”

The Flyers know teams that are successful at this time of the year dominate on defense. The key is to trust that strategy, especially in the face of adversity.

“A lot of the games over the last stretch have been really hard-fought games,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “[Saturday] was a game we stuck with right from the drop of the puck.

“It’s really hard to stand up here and say our team’s playing pretty good hockey when the results aren’t coming, but our team’s been playing pretty good hockey. We had to win a tight, close one [against San Jose]. Maybe that’s the way it’s going to be [the rest of the year].”

If so, the Flyers are prepared for it.