Starting out the season on the road, the Flyers earned three out of a possible four points in a tough-back-to-back series in LA and Arizona. A complete day off, followed by today's practice in Chicago has the club preparing to face the Blackhawks, who haven't exactly gotten off to a hot start, losing two of three games.
This week also begins the countdown to the Flyers much anticipated home opener with a special celebration to mark the club's 50th anniversary, but the team knows that returning home with five out of six points is a big difference from three or four points.
"It's huge for us," said Wayne Simmonds on the importance of finishing off this season opening road trip. "Especially mentally. Anytime you have a back-to-back like that on the west coast, I think coming out with three out of four points is huge. We've had a day here to reset and get our legs back together and it's up to us to be mentally focused going into this game."
The last time the Flyers started the season out with at least five points out of the first three games was the 2011-12 season when they went a perfect 3-0-0. However one of those games was on home ice and the challenge of playing three on the road to start out the season can be looked a several different ways.
"I think you can spin that any way that you want to," said Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol. "For us, it's been a good opportunity to go on the road and go into a couple tough environments so far and to test ourselves a little bit. We certainly have a bigger, or at least equal test, coming into this building [United Center] tomorrow night and those are good ways to really bring teams together and push you to be at your best early in the year."
Not only are the Flyers rested, their opponent is as well. The Blackhawks last played on Saturday and despite losing their first two games of the season, exploded for five goals and earned a 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators on home ice and went 2-for-3 on the man advantage after starting the year just 1-for-8.
READ MOVES UP
As much as Simmonds was a key contributer in the Flyers coming back to earn a point and give them a good chance in OT at Arizona, so too was Matt Read, who tied the game up and had a couple good chances, including one in overtime that was stolen away by Coyotes netminder, Mike Smith.
At practice today, Read was bumped up to the third line alongside Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Dale Weise.
"I don't think it matters who you're playing with if its the fourth or the first line it's about going out there and playing with your linemates and making them better every shift," added Read. "Going from Gordon's line to Bellemare's line is a compliment after two games but in the next game we still have to be playing as hard as we have been and keep producing opportunities offensively."
From a coaching standpoint, Hakstol liked what he saw out of Read but it hasn't been just the two games.
"He's been a consistent guy all the way through camp," added Hakstol. "He's been versatile. We've asked him to play several different roles through preseason as well as through the first couple of games and he continues to do a good job."
The Flyers face off against the Blackhawks on Tuesday night in an 8:30 p.m. puck drop (CSN, NBCSN & 97.5 The Fanatic).