We gave the Philadelphia Flyers the benefit of the doubt in early March when they hit the skids, figuring the first-place club seemingly just hit a minor bump during a fantastic season.
Well, the malaise continues, as the Flyers are 6-7-4 in their past 17 games and have dropped five of their past seven contests.
"It's been the same problem now for the past month," veteran Flyers center Danny Briere told ESPN.com on Saturday. "It seems we play a good game or two and then we have a bad one, or two bad ones."
The Flyers have four more regular-season games left to steer the ship. It's not funny anymore. They've got to get it going this week and get rid of the bad habits.
"I'm hoping that guys have realized the playoffs are around the corner," Briere said. "You have to get ready for the playoffs as a player and make sure you're ready to go when the playoffs start. We did it last year. I think we gained a lot of experience, we really showed up in the playoffs last year. I'm hoping we'll be able to do that same thing this year."
Sunday's matinee against the New York Rangers is just the type of game the Flyers need. The Rangers, desperate for points to keep their playoff hopes alive, are the perfect playoff-like test for Philly.
"Yes, and that's a good thing," said Briere. "It felt that way against Pittsburgh this past week. We played a great game in their building. Tomorrow is the same type of game, where the other team is desperate. It's a great rivalry, it's a national game in the U.S. on NBC. Hopefully it's the kind of game we get up for."