You couldn’t miss the irony. Here’s a Flyers team in desperate need of a wake-up call, five points out of a playoff spot with four teams to catch and just nine games to do it and the big story at Wednesday’s practice was about a radio report that goalie Ilya Bryzgalov had fallen asleep in a team meeting.
“No, that’s completely incorrect,” coach Peter Laviolette insisted when asked if that was the reason Bryzgalov sat out Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Islanders in favor of newcomer Steve Mason.
Similar responses reverberated throughout the locker room, where the 17-19-3 Flyers were preparing for Thursday’s game with Ottawa, one of the clubs they’re attempting to catch.
“That’s not true and I’ll tell you that on the record,” echoed Kimmo Timonen, one of the few regulars on an injury-riddled defense which learned it will be without Niklas Grossmann another 2-3 weeks due to a concussion. “That’s not my business to tell you what happened and didn’t happen.
“He wasn’t sleeping. But we’ve got nine games left and (Thursday) is a big game. We still have a chance.’’
The Senators currently stand sixth in the East with 44 points, despite dropping their last five. The Islanders, with one extra game played, also have 44, followed by the Rangers and Jets (42 apiece), Devils (40) and Sabres (38). The Flyers, who’ve won a conference-low five games, next head to Buffalo, then host the Rangers and Devils next week.
But even if they can get some wins, undoubtedly they’ll need outside help to leapfrog all those other teams into one of those coveted top eight positions. Of course that’s out of their control.
“We have to win a game,” said Laviolette, who refused to say whether he’d go back to Bryzgalov or stick with Mason against the Sens. “We’ve been in these situations before, so we’ve got to keep fighting.
“Prepare yourself for a game we have to win. It’s that simple.’’
In other words if they don’t wake up now, it won’t be long before they’re put to bed for the season.