All it took was a little psychology.

That’s how Shayne Gostisbehere described it to me following the Flyers impressive 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals yesterday that capped off a perfect – and much-needed – four-point weekend.

Here’s what he said:

“We were talking about it [after last week’s loss to Columbus] and we realized, we’re not chasing anybody. We realized, we’re still in the driver’s seat. All we had to do was make things simple again, don’t try to do to much and just play our game. Going into these two games, we knew it was going to be tough because they were back-to-back, but we didn’t really have time to feel sorry for ourselves about what had happened previously.

“It really makes it easier to play that way. You go out there and instead of overthinking, you’re having fun out there. We’re in control. We’re in a playoff spot. Just bear down and have fun.”

Sounds simple enough.

And if the Flyers continue to play like they did against Washington – a team they match up well against and could well see in the first round of the playoffs – then they will certainly hold on to a playoff spot. And if they play the Capitals in the first round, they could maybe even steal a series – and they believe it too.

Asked if this is a team they like to match up with and one that could be a potential first round opponent, Wayne Simmonds put it bluntly:

“Yeah. Obviously it’s a divisional opponent. We generally play Washington pretty well. They always have a great team. I think we rise to the challenge when we play them.”

The Flyers have certainly looked like a confident team against the Capitals. They outscored them 19-11 in four games this year, going 3-1 against the current Metropolitan Division leaders.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Flyers still sit in third place in the Division. They still sit two points ahead of Columbus and three points ahead of New Jersey – the two wild card teams – and both have a game in hand.

They pushed their lead back to eight points over Florida – the first team on the outside looking in – but the Panthers have a ridiculous four games in hand, which means they can really make the Flyers sweat over the final few weeks of the season.

So, the jockeying for playoff positioning will happen continuously over these next three weeks. But the Flyers have a little more breathing room now then they did before your NCAA brackets were busted.

“Honestly, I don’t think our confidence ever left,” said Travis Konencny, who had one hell of a night, which we’ll get to shortly. “We went into a stretch where we were playing unbelievable hockey for a couple months, but we knew at some point we’d face adversity and we just had to work through it.

“There’s always going to be ups and downs. There were stretches in the last little bit where we played well enough but we just didn’t get the outcomes we wanted. But we stuck to it and it’s paid off for us these last couple games.”

It was a hell of a weekend for the Flyers, even if it didn’t start off well.

1. Wrong time of year, coach

Konecny was “demoted” to the third line and Michael Raffl was bumped to his spot on the top line because of some recent mistakes that Konecny had made on the ice.

I’m going to stop here for a minute to complain about the coach (again), because that’s a real “I don’t get it.”

Konecny’s move to the top line coincided with the Flyers’ breakout this season. Sure he makes mistakes, but so does Jake Voracek. Neither is ever going to be mistaken for a defensive-minded player. They’re both gifted offensively – in different ways – and make the Flyers dangerous anytime they have the puck on their stick.

Will there be mistakes of tempo, the occasional turnover, being out of position, or not playing defensively? Yes. And although that can be frustrating at times, the good always outweighs the bad, and so, you accept it, because you know that unleashed style of play is going to result in more scoring chances.

So why then does Dave Hakstol continue to be overly punitive with Konecny as opposed to other players? Especially now, when the team is fighting for a playoff spot?

You want to send a message to a player, you do it in November. Doing it in March could hurt your team’s chances at success. This isn’t college anymore, Coach.

For two periods against Carolina Saturday, the Flyers offense looked inept. Konecny was buried on the third line with Val Filppula and Wayne Simmonds and Raffl, who isn’t exactly an offensive dynamo, was getting top line minutes with Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux.

It was a decision that could have cost them the game – as the team got behind 1-0 and it was staying that way for awhile.

But in the third period, Konecny was reunited with Giroux and Couturier – and lo and behold, scored a goal to tie the score.

Carolina re-took the lead, but the Flyers stormed back, getting goals from Voracek and Filppula 2:13 apart and an empty netter from Raffl to get a win in a game that wasn’t looking good for much of it.

So, one would think the coach would keep those line combinations intact the next night, after a four-goal third period outburst, right?

Wrong. There was Konecny, on the third line again. And there was the Flyers going scoreless in the first period again.

This time, Hakstol went back to his more traditional lines in the second period and – voila – three goals in the second, three goals in the third.

In other words – leave well enough alone.

It looks like Gostisbehere had a bit of a punitive seat on the bench in the third period yesterday, too, after a bad turnover that didn’t result in a Washington goal, but probably bothered Hakstol. He also has had times in his career where he’s been temporarily in Hakstol’s dog house. It’s petty, especially with players who put up numbers for your team.

2. A coaching decision that went right

I’m an equal opportunity person, and even though on most nights I use this space to treat Hakstol like he does Konecny, he made an unexpected, yet correct move on defense last night.

With Robert Hagg returning from his lower body injury, Brandon Manning became a healthy scratch for the first time since Oct. 21.

Read that again.

A guy, who is a No. 7 defenseman, was a healthy scratch for the first time since Oct. 21.

Yes, he missed three weeks worth of games in December with an injury, but other than that, he has been a staple of the Flyers lineup, on a third pair that has really not been good for most of the season (along with Radko Gudas).

Yet, with Travis Sanheim looking better (still making mistakes though) than he did in his first go round with the Flyers, Hakstol decided to keep Sanheim in the lineup and have Hagg replace Manning on the third pairing.

It was the right decision (as it would have been any of the 45 previous games, but I digress), and it paid off.

Gudas had a solid game. He was more active offensively. And although he had a blunder in the third period with the Flyers ahead three goals that led to a a 2-on-1 breakaway for the Capitals – and an eventual goal for Washington – he looked better than he has in some time.

Gudas finished with a pair of assists, his first multiple point game in more than a calendar year.

Hagg was his typical self, and the third pair looked… well, good.

I would assume this lineup will stay the same going into Detroit tomorrow, but one never knows with Hakstol.

3. TK’s not so excellent adventure

So, as we mentioned before, Konecny started on the third line… again. He got back to the first line and gave the Flyers some really good minutes.

But, he also was beat up physically.

First he blocked a shot with his quadriceps that had him limping to the tunnel in agony.

Then upon his return, he took another shot to the midsection, which wasn’t exactly a comforting feeling.

“I’m learning,” he said. “It’s that time of year when those shots are crucial to make sure they’re not getting to your goaltender and you know I was just trying to do my best to get in the lane. You know, it’s funny, usually when you’re in the lane they won’t shoot the puck so maybe I wasn’t in position on them.”

Dealing with the frustration of serving as target practice, Konecny returned to the ice a third time and was immediately high-sticked by T.J. Oshie.

That was enough:

“I was frustrated,” he said. So I finished my hit on (Oshie) and we went… hey, he’s not a bad guy to take off the ice when they’re trying to score.”

Konecny had to go off the ice a third time to get a cut on his hand treated from the fight. And came back a third time.

The kid is tough as nails. No wonder he is quickly becoming a fan favorite here in Philadelphia.

Konecny will gladly accept the team’s day off the ice today to try to recover in time for tomorrow’s game.

4. Another injury though

Not sure what happened, but Michael Raffl left the game with what the team is calling an upper body injury.

They sent out a statement from Ron Hextall – who wasn’t even at the game because he’s in Florida. That tells you it’s probably an injury that will cause him to miss time.

If so, I expect we’ll either see the return of Jori Lehtera or maybe, possibly, Taylor Leier?

The Flyers will probably send out an update late this afternoon.

5. Wayne Train back on track

Simmonds had his best game in a while. He scored a pair of goals. One on a beautiful deflection:

And this from the team’s former chaplain:

I must say, I agree with the good padre.

And then Simmonds’ second goal with a nice snap to it:

If Simmonds starts to put the puck in the net with even more regularity in the final nine games of the season and into the playoffs, that could make the Flyers a really hard out.

6. Finally for Oskar

I know, you’ve all be waiting for this, but after 14 games, Oskar Lindblom finally scored his first NHL goal… and it was a beaut:

I like a lot about Oskar’s game as a whole. I think he’s going to be a solid pro. I’m not sure he’s ever going to be a top-tier goal scorer, but I think he’s a top nine forward for sure who can play on both ends of the ice and chip in with modest production.

If so, then that’s a gem of a find in the fifth round of a draft.

7. Mrazek reaches a mark

Better game overall for Petr Mrazek. He had one ugly goal, but the Flyers had a comfy lead at the time, so, no concerns. Right? Right?

Anyway, it was his fifth one as a Flyer. That was one of four triggers on the conditional 2018 fourth round draft pick that goes from the Flyers to the Red Wings in the trade.

  1. If he gets five wins and;
  2. The flyers makes the playoffs, the fourth round pick becomes a third round pick.
  3. If the Flyers reach the Conference Finals and Mrazek has six playoff wins, the third round pick becomes a second round pick.
  4. If the Flyers re-sign Mrazek, the Red Wings get a 2019 third round pick.

It looks like the Red Wings are getting a 2018 third round pick. I doubt the 2019 one will ever come into consideration.