Now it’s Stevens’ turn to get Philadelphia back on track after a humbling, blowout loss – something Ken Hitchcock could never do before he was fired last week.
Stevens took a step Sunday, meeting with the Flyers’ veteran leadership committee a day after Sidney Crosby’s first career hat trick led Pittsburgh to an 8-2 win over Philadelphia. The Flyers called a nearly 20-minute team meeting after the loss, looking for some sort of way to snap out of a breakdown that’s led to an NHL-worst 2-7-1 record.
Stevens was looking for more answers on Sunday.
“We had a real good talk about where we’re at and what’s going on in the locker room,” Stevens said. “The thing they came up with was, ‘Who are we? What’s our identity?’ It’s a real good question. I think we have to go back and put a real big emphasis on our play without the puck. We need to work and we need to check.”
The Flyers are 1-1 under Stevens, beating Atlanta in a shootout on Thursday. It’s the only home win in four games for the Flyers, who host the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night. A loss to Chicago would leave the Flyers with their worst record in team history through 11 games.
It was the second embarrassing loss this season for Philadelphia. Flyers chairman Ed Snider said he knew he had to fire Hitchcock after a 9-1 loss at Buffalo, one of the worst in team history.
“We have to get back to playing better first,” interim general manager Paul Holmgren said. “We took some steps in the right direction against Atlanta. I know what the coach’s message was today – let’s get back to work, let’s get back to taking care of our own end first.”
The Flyers will play without right wing Mike Knuble, who fractured his middle finger against the Penguins and had surgery on Sunday. Knuble, who played all 92 regular-season games and six playoff games since joining the Flyers at the start of the 2005-06 season, will miss about two weeks.
Tough break, for sure. But the Flyers desperately need to tighten their defence more than anything if they’re going to get back into playoff contention.
R.J. Umberger said the Flyers spent much of Sunday’s practice working on defence. The eight goals scored by the Penguins has brought the season total to a whopping 43 goals allowed, most in the Atlantic Division.
“We’re back to square one,” Umberger said. “We worked on defensive positioning. We came out hard (vs. Pittsburgh), that isn’t the issue. We’re giving up too much. We knew this wasn’t going to change overnight.
“It’s a process that’s not going to be easy. I think we have to establish ourselves as a defensive team and go from there. We got in a track meet with them (the Penguins) and we can’t do that.”