Voorhees, NJ – After suffering a difficult 5-3 defeat at the hands of the New York Rangers in their home opener, there was a common theme among the players in the Flyers locker room at their practice facility.
We're playing again on Friday.
It's great for us that we have a game again [Friday] to forget about the first one, but it's not going to be easy, said Simon Gagne, who tallied the Flyers' first goal of the season in the first period on Wednesday night, tying the game at 1-1 at the time. New Jersey has got a great team and a great goaltender in [Martin] Brodeur, and they won their first game so they are pretty confident right now. We have a big challenge in front of us, and we need to play 60 minutes instead of 20 like we did [Wednesday] night.
Philadelphia held a 3-1 lead midway through the second period on Wednesday before surrendering four unanswered goals to New York including three in the final period.
Peter Forsberg, who set up the first two Flyers' goals in the first period, is also anxious to get back in front of the home crowd and produce a better result.
We have to fix a few things, especially the defensive coverage, said Forsberg. [Jaromir] Jagr's line played pretty well down low, so we had to fix a few things. The good thing is it is a new game on Friday, and we just have to regroup and bounce back.
The Flyers biggest struggle on Wednesday night was clearing the puck from their own defensive zone, as well as killing penalties. New York features two solid scoring lines, led by Jagr, who scored two power play goals including the game-winner in the third period.
The new rules in the NHL certainly favor the offense, so Flyers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock stressed defense during an hour-long practice session on Thursday morning at the Sovereign Bank Flyers Skate Zone.
We're telling [the defensemen] the same thing we're telling everybody. It's really simple. It's being physical and [keep] two hands on your stick when you're closing in, said Hitchcock. You just can't have it parallel to the ground. It's got to be at 45 degrees or on the ice. The other thing is, you can't hook and you can't hold. That's been very consistent with the refs.
I think the fear factor is, that guys are afraid of the way they use the stick. We worked hard on it today, and it was a very physical practice. We might have had two minors in the whole practice on coverage and our guys are adapting. Every team is going through this; it's just overcoming the fear factor to still play physical. You end up doing nothing. And that's what we did last night – we ended up doing nothing.
Roster News The Flyers recalled defenseman Randy Jones on Thursday, to take the place of Dennis Seidenberg, who suffered a concussion in Wednesday's game.
[Randy] Jones is here and will play tomorrow, said Hitchcock. Dennis [Seidenberg] is under observation from the game last night. We won't be able to get an update until later in the week.
Hitchcock also commented on the role of captain Keith Primeau, who played 11-and-a-half minutes of the game on Wednesday.
He's not going to play on the power play very much, said Hitchcock. He's going to kill a lot of penalties, obviously. The interesting part is, if [the power plays were] reversed yesterday, he would have played 21 minutes.
He's a key guy on our team up front, and he's going to kill a lot of penalties. We only took four of them, and on two of them they scored real quick. That's abnormal. We're going to take more than four penalties a game and he's going to play big minutes and against the other teams' best players.
Antero Niittymaki will be starting in goal for the Flyers, while Robert Esche will play in Toronto on Tuesday.