The 2018-19 season is far from the Flyers' first rodeo.
Claude Giroux is one of the more decorated players in franchise history. He's currently the longest-tenured athlete in Philadelphia, has played in a Stanley Cup Final and carries 69 games of playoff experience.
Wayne Simmonds has worn orange and black since 2011. He embodies a toughness this city wraps its arms around, has two 30-goal seasons and is second to only Alex Ovechkin in power-play markers since 2011-12.
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Jakub Voracek has played 30 postseason games in Philly, is a two-time 80-point scorer and owns the NHL's sixth-most assists since 2014-15.
James van Riemsdyk is a No. 2 overall pick, played on the Flyers' 2010 Stanley Cup Final team and has twice eclipsed the 30-goal plateau.
Sean Couturier has played in Philadelphia since he was 19 years old, is fresh off a breakout year (31 goals, 45 assists) and was a Selke Trophy runner-up (top defensive forward) last season.
These are résumés with some shine, track records that should exude confidence. It's why so many liked the makeup of the Flyers as training camp rolled around because the team looked good on paper.
But, as Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon put it, "Confidence is a tricky word."
The past doesn't always produce confidence. It doesn't just magically appear in a player's mind. While everyone on the outside is trying to wrap their head around this team sitting near the NHL basement 40 games into the season, the Flyers are fighting for their confidence.
The core's future, with pieces up against the clock, could depend on it.
That belief within.
Gordon said it's secondary. Actions build confidence.
When you do the right things, you work hard, you compete and you battle, you get a lot of confidence because you know you put in the time, the work, the effort, to be successful.
When a player is not playing well, he tries to play a little more on the perimeter, tries to be open where nobody sees him laying in the weeds, standing behind the net when he needs to get above the puck. There's so much value in being able to have a presence through the middle of the ice and the effort that is exerted to get there. Sometimes it doesn't show you the necessary offensive results, but it puts you in good position to be able to stop the opposition from going on the attack.
So instead of … maybe it's a chip out, maybe it's a turnover that you create by working to get to the middle of the ice as oppose to standing behind the net or standing in the weak-side corner and then all of a sudden you're on a 200-foot backcheck and you're getting scored against and you're losing confidence. 'Why am I getting scored against?'
The Flyers are 15-20-5 and tied for the NHL's fewest points at 35. They have lost a season-worst five straight games and have a minus-31 goal differential. And since Nov. 13, they are 6-13-4 and have seen a massive shake-up with the firing of their general manager, assistant general manager, head coach and an assistant coach.
"It's like quicksand right now," Simmonds said of the struggles Thursday night following a 5-3 loss to the Hurricanes. "We're trying to get out and it feels like it's just getting deeper."
The next changes will come to the roster.
What those changes are will be up to the Flyers and their mental fortitude to keep things together and buy more time from new general manager Chuck Fletcher (see story).
The Flyers could look starkly different after the Feb. 25 trade deadline.
The core is a good group of players. It's a good group of guys. They care.
Truly, it would be a shame to see it end like this - without one last run, fighting for confidence.
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