TAMPA – It was the most glaring thing on the Flyers schedule when it was released a little over two months ago and now we’re almost there:
A gaping hole of five consecutive days off in a condensed schedule.
It was unexpected in a season of 48 games in 99 days. But it definitely stood out. Especially for a Flyers team that played more games than any team in the league to this point.
The players are being given two complete days off to do as they please – vacation with the family, sit at home and vegetate… whatever – before returning for practice Thursday as the prepare for the final playoff push and a grueling 18 games in the final 35 days of the season.
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PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers are looking to change their luck in any way possible.
The latest, is a new set of warm-up music.
While the leadership group was responsible for going back to last year’s victory song (“Knock Knock” by Mac Miller) it’s the younger guys who’ve put in a request to change the warm up playlist.
Brayden Schenn made the request earlier today, but he was the representative of a group of younger players who wanted a different brand of music to help get the team fired up to play for the Devils.
I got the new playlist… including where to start and stop each version!
Here it is:(Click "Full Story" for all the songs and more...)
NEWARK, N.J. – This morning was the first time Simon Gagne stepped into the Prudential Center since last year’s Stanley Cup Finals.
Funny, how the sense of urgency to win a game is eerily similar now as it was then.
Of course, he is a world away from where he was last June, when he was battling concussion-like symptoms and trying to fit back into a Los Angeles Kings lineup that was well-oiled on it’s way to the franchise’s first championship.
Now, he finds himself back with his original team – the Flyers – trying to get back into the swing of things again, only this time to help a desperate team just get into the playoffs.
It’s funny how things work sometimes, and Gagne’s story has been ironic around every turn.(Click "Full Story" for more...)
VOORHEES, N.J. – The way Peter Laviolette juggles lines, it’s not likely that this line will last long enough for the nickname to stick, but let’s have some fun while we have the chance, shall we?
Of course, that prompted Philadelphia Inquirer beat writer Sam Carchidi to call them the new French Connection.
“I knew that was coming,” Briere said with a smile.(Click "Full Story" for more...)
PHILADELPHIA – Let’s start off with this: The jam is back.
No not that jam... although coach Peter Laviolette will tell you that it's that kind of jam that leads to this kind of locker room celebration... but the Flyers ditched their 2013 game-winning song and went a little old school.
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VOORHEES, N.J. – Scott Hartnell had a message for his teammates after their loss to Pittsburgh Thursday and it was quite simple – if they were going to turn around their spate of inconsistent play, it would have to start with a sharp, crisp and intense practice Friday.
And although the Flyers were only on the ice for 25 minutes before flying to Boston for a major battle with the Bruins, those 25 minutes were spirited – with a lot of skating and a lot of competing drills.
And leading the way was Hartnell, who was practicing as if he had a chip on his shoulder.(Click "Full Story" for more...)
VOORHEES, N.J. – Everyone knows that the possibility of Chris Pronger ever playing hockey again is the longest of long shots.
But, even the slimmest glimmer of hope is enough for some people – including Flyers coach Peter Laviolette as well as Pronger himself.
Let’s start with Pronger who spoke publicly Thursday in the Philadelphia market for the first time since December 1, 2011. Pronger bared his soul about the emotional battles he’s had to fight as a result of the post concussion symptoms he’s had and the after effects of a scary eye injury suffered when Mikael Grabovski caught him with the blade of his stick on a follow through of a shot on Oct. 24, 2011.
Pronger said that the injury and the after-effects of it have been very debilitating and have stopped him from doing almost everything that he has done – as if by rote – since he was 15 years old.
Pronger also had a press release from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center handed out to reporters in which the specialist treating him – Dr. Michael “Mickey” Collins – has advised that he no longer play the sport of hockey.
And while putting two-and-two together that all might suggest that adding up to four is equal to a retirement announcement, Pronger wouldn’t go that far.(Click "Full Story" for more, including video...)
NEW YORK – Peter Laviolette was in the mood to talk this morning – and he had a lot to say.
It wasn’t anything particularly inflammatory. Nor was it anything particularly earth-shattering.
But it was particularly interesting through-and-through.
Some of his most thoughtful comments came regarding the amount of penalties that are called in games involving the Flyers.
“I think we just got to come to the realization that our penalty kill needs to be real good,” Laviolette said. “I think we should spend more time working on the penalty kill than evaluating the penalties. Trust me, it’s not like we don’t go in there and say, ‘Don’t be disciplined,’ and it’s not that I don’t think the players are being disciplined, I do. I just think that in our games we have to kill penalties… and we get [ a lot of] power plays too. I don’t know what it is… Really.”
The Flyers have been shorthanded 96 times this season, tied for second-most in the NHL. Conversely, they have also been on the power play 96 times – also second-most in the league.
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There is no doubt that the Flyers have had their share of injuries in this shortened season.
Whether it was Danny Briere missing the start of the year with a fractured forearm suffered in Germany, or it was Scott Hartnell going down with a fractured foot in the third game of the year, or Wayne Simmonds missing a week with a concussion, the Flyers have had a lot of hills to traverse on the injury front.
But each time, the recovery period seemed to expedite at a faster rate than what was originally anticipated.
Briere went from a month to two weeks. Hartnell went from a possible eight weeks to a little more than four.
So would it be a surprise if Matt Read made it back to the ice after suffering torn rib muscles on Feb. 20 sooner rather than later?
The way things have gone this year, it shouldn’t.(Click "Full Story" for more...)
PHILADELPHIA -- If you’re looking for Harry Zolnierczyk at the 36th Flyers Wives Fight for Lives carnival tomorrow and you don’t see him, he may have had to step out to take a phone call.
That call is coming at some point – with Zolnierczyk talking with NHL director of player safety Brendan Shanahan after a nasty hit left defenseman Mike Lundin not knowing which direction was up.
Zolnierczyk leveled Lundin at 9:13 of the first period and was assessed a major for charging and a game misconduct. Lundin never returned to the game after being knocked woozy.
Replays show that Zolnierczyk stayed low and had good form heading into his hit, but he may have left his feet and made contact with Lundin’s head, which is a no-no in the NHL anymore.
(Click "Full Story" for video of the hit and more...)