The Philadelphia Flyers aren’t getting too comfortable atop the Eastern Conference, and their latest performance didn’t do them any favors.
A four-game homestand could help them breathe a little easier.
The Flyers look to rebound from a listless effort when they host the slumping Nashville Predators for the only time this season Thursday night.
Philadelphia (33-13-5) leads the East by a slim margin with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh in close pursuit, and Boston and Washington also in the picture.
“At this stage of the season you’re going to be playing teams that are fighting for a playoff sport or trying to solidify a playoff spot,” defenseman Chris Pronger(notes) told the Flyers’ official website. “All teams are hungry and wanting to win hockey games.”
The Flyers had won 11 of 14 entering the All-Star break, but allowed two goals in the opening 1:21 on Thursday en route to a 4-0 road loss to the Lightning. Now, they’ll try to avoid their first consecutive losses since Dec. 20 and 28.
Pronger isn’t concerned.
“We’re a team that bounces back pretty well from losses,” the defenseman said. “That’s been a big part of our success this year. When we do have a loss, we rally the troops quickly and get back on the right side of the win column.”
Playing the next four games at Wells Fargo Center could get Philadelphia untracked. The Flyers have won four of their last five there.
Philadelphia winger Claude Giroux(notes) will also look to re-establish his individual success after having his career-best seven-game point streak snapped by the Lightning. Giroux has five goals and five assists in his last 10 home games.
He found the back of the net in a 4-1 win over the Predators (27-17-7) on March 7, 2009, the teams’ last meeting in Philadelphia.
The Predators have dropped three in a row, but two have been decided by one goal. Led by Rinne, they’ve been stingy this season (122 goals allowed), and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette is aware of the threat they pose.
“They’re pretty tight defensively and they get good goaltending and they’ve had a good season,” he said. “It seems like everybody always counts them out, for whatever reason … they’re just one of those quiet teams that effectively does their job every year’
The Predators struggled defensively Tuesday, squandering a pair of leads en route to a 3-2 shootout loss to Calgary.
“At least we got one point, but there comes a point where we’ve got to figure out how to lock things down,” captain Shea Weber(notes) said. “There are 31 games left, and if we’re not going to find a way to get two points, we’re going to be out of the playoffs.”
Rinne has performed respectably during Nashville’s slide, compiling a 2.30 goals-against average while starting all three games. Rinne had won nine of his previous 10 starts with a 1.48 GAA.
Weber leads the Predators with 31 points, including 16 points over his last 15 games. The defenseman has an assist in each of his two previous visits to Philadelphia.