The Flyers changed their plans Thursday, foregoing an on-ice practice and instead taking the day to do workouts off the ice and get treatment before departing mid-afternoon for Newark, where they’ll conclude the preseason against the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.
With the initial excitement of training camp more or less burned off, head coach Dave Hakstol saw his team seemed a bit lethargic Wednesday night against the Devils. That, combined with the upcoming schedule, suggested to him and his staff that such a course of action was worth considering.
“We’re going to take a day off on Sunday,” Hakstol said. “We want to get the most out of the next couple of days. We’ve got a game day tomorrow and I think this gives us the ability to have a real good workday coming back home on Saturday.”
It certainly doesn’t mean the Flyers are writing off Friday’s game as just the last game of camp – in fact, it’s quite the contrary. Throughout training camp the team has been traveling to its short-distance away games in Allentown, Brooklyn and Manhattan the day of the game. That’s often the custom in the preseason.
But in the regular season, teams travel the day before a game most times, which gives them the ability to wake up on a game day, have a proper morning skate, and go through their normal gameday routine. So the Flyers are adopting that regular-season approach so players can get back into that routine prior to the first two games of the regular season, which are both on the road at Tampa Bay and Florida.
“It’s a regular game day, a regular road routine,” Hakstol said. “Absolutely, it’s a part of building towards the regular season.”
Friday’s game is key throughout the Flyers organization. The players want that final chance to tune up, get their timing right, and even perhaps get the taste of Wednesday out of their mouths – as a group, the Flyers weren’t too happy about their effort, and they want to head into the regular season on a better note.
“You push hard in preseason, you push hard in practice to get in shape,” said Flyers general manager Ron Hextall after Wednesday’s game. “It was kind of one of those games where I didn’t think we had our best energy, so we need to reenergize and play better on Friday. I didn’t think we played terrible. I didn’t think we played great. We had our stretches. It was a tough start, good first, second was so so, I mean it wasn’t a great game by us.”
The nature of the game wasn’t lost on Hakstol, who’s using Friday’s game as part of his overall plan to prepare for next Thursday’s opener.
“We didn’t generate a whole lot, we didn’t have a whole lot of pop to our game,” Hakstol said. “So I think that is something we want to try to regain as we go through the game on Friday and then we will reevaluate exactly where we are at going into the week of practice next week. I don’t want to bypass or look past Friday because I think Friday is an important day for us.”
The Flyers lost one of their offseason depth signings Thursday when Chris Porter was claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Wild. Porter signed with the Flyers in the offseason after spending seven seasons in the St. Louis organization; he’s appeared in 173 games for the Blues, while spending the majority of the time with the club’s American Hockey League affiliates.
“He did a good job and had a good preseason,” Hextall said. “[So it’s] good for him. It was going to be real hard for us to keep him. If it wouldn’t have been, we would have tried. We’ve got a lot of players who do a similar role, but we really liked having him in the organization.”
Hextall said the Flyers would wait until after Friday’s game to make their final roster cuts. Originally the team was looking at setting its final roster before the contest, but Hextall said the minor injuries that have cropped up made that plan difficult.