The Flyers had a quick practice in front of 5,000 fans in Atlantic City. That was followed by a complete day off.
The team returned to practice today eager to cap off their homestand with four straight wins. Only problem is they have to wait another three days to do so.
The schedule resumes on Friday when the team will face off against the Columbus Blue Jackets, then they turn around and travel to Montreal to take on the Canadiens the very next night.
“I don’t really look at it either way to be honest with you. It is what it is, so we’re going to do our best to get ready for Friday,” said head coach Craig Berube when asked if the layoff would kill momentum.
From the looks of today’s practice it seems their best is to simulate game action and repeatedly focus on battle drills and keep up on conditioning.
“Today was a completely different practice than we’re used to,” said Wayne Simmonds. “It was battle drills the whole time, but you need that. I think it was good to get your legs going today and then we’ll go back and get to working on systems in the next couple of days to get ready for Columbus.”
Having a new linemate in Simmonds on the left side, Jakub Voracek and captain Claude Giroux know how valuable this time away from games is and how the team needs to take advantage of it. The break in the Flyers schedule is the longest of the entire season, except for when the NHL stars gather for the mid-season classic All-Star Game from Jan. 21-26.
“It’s good to kind of touch on a couple things. We did a lot of battle drills today and to switch it up was good,” said Giroux. “Hopefully we can look at some video and see what we can do better. We’re three pretty close friends so anytime you play with two of your closest friends it’s a lot of fun.”
With Simmonds taking a place on the top line with Giroux and Voracek, another tweak was made concerning line combinations at Tuesday’s practice.
Jason Akeson, who primarily had been playing this year on the fourth line, was bumped up to play alongside Vincent Lecavalier and RJ Umberger.
“He [Akeson] can make plays and Vinny and Umby need a playmaker with them,” said Berube. “It’s something that I want to see what can happen and I got the other line-up with [VandeVelde], Bellemare and Rinaldo - that’s a good checking line. It has energy and size to it.”
On the injury front, defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Luke Schenn didn’t skate with the team.
MacDonald is recovering from a lower-body injury, while it was announced on Sunday that Schenn will be out approximately two weeks with an upper-body injury he suffered in the first period of the Flyers-Avalanche game on Nov. 8.