By ANDREW PORTER
The Flyers headed to Washington in the midst of a six game winning streak Sunday, just before a stretch of a three day break. They came up short against the Caps, suffering a 3-2 overtime loss, but headed into a three day lay off 9-4-2, good for the second most points in the Eastern Conference.
During the off-days, Laviolette decided to take his boys to Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in North Carolina, for a team bonding activity. The team split up into teams on the golf course, playing Canada against the world in a golf tourney, and hanging out for a few days before their matchup with the Hurricanes on Thursday.
Seems cheesy, but it’s not. It’s necessary. If you have never played sports in your life, this is not a big deal to you. The team bonding and chemistry goes unnoticed and unimportant in the minds of the average sports fan, especially the ones who have never actually played these games they love themselves.
For those of us who have played organized sports, whether in college, or high school, or even just a recreational league, you understand the importance of team chemistry. The aspect of a team coming together, in my mind, is the most important aspect in sports. Yes, talent is crucial, but check the 5-4 Miami Heat out. Maybe they should hang out with the Flyers.
The success of the Phillies over the past few seasons has been highlighted by the personality of the team. We love those shots in the dugout, of Howard and Victorino joking around, or Jimmy and Charlie talking it up. Charlie Manuel has built a team that we have grown to love, and although they have the talent, more importantly, they have the character.
And starting with last year’s incredible post season run, that is what Laviolette and the Flyers are building. They are building a team, of good young talent with Giroux, Leino, Carter, Richards, and Bobrovsky, combined with the veteran leadership of Pronger, Briere, and Timonen, combined with the toughness of Hartnell, Carcillo, and Shelley. This Flyers team is confident, fun, and they’re good.
Oh, they went into Carolina this week, after their three day retreat of hanging out and golfing, and smoked the Canes 8-1 to increase their point streak to 8 games. They have owned Carolina, going 14-0-3 against them in the teams’ last 17 meetings. Last night, Carter tallied his second career hat trick, while Bobrovsky allowed only one goal on 36 shots. The Briere-Hartnell-Leino line has been completely dominant, as Briere scored his 7th and 8th goals, and Hartnell scored his 5th. Richards added a shorthanded goal, assisted by Giroux, Giroux’s 4th and league leading shorthanded point of the season. The power play was 2-2 and is now 11-34 (32.2%) during the 8 game point streak. Laviolette has been playing Richards on the point during the power play this season, something that seems to be working perfectly.
The Flyers are hot right now, and they’re a whole lot of fun to watch. Yes it’s early, but I can’t wait for Flyers playoff hockey.