To see video of Keith Primeau and Peter Forsberg talking about the beginning of the season courtesy of Comcast SportsNet, click here.
Voorhees, NJ – After the excitement of the off-season and the impressive 6-1 record that the team posted in the preseason, it is finally time.
A new era of Flyers hockey debuts on Wednesday night at the Wachovia Center as Philadelphia hosts the New York Rangers. The anticipation level in the locker room at the Sovereign Bank Flyers Skate Zone is boiling over, as many of the players have not played in a professional game for almost 18 months.
Everybody is excited to get going,
said Flyers captain Keith Primeau.
It has been a long time, and you can feel the excitement in the locker room. We all know that training camp is a necessary evil, but at the same time, we're just excited to get going again.
The players are also getting adjusted to the new rules instituted for the 2005-06 season, which the referees began calling in the preseason. There were many penalties in the preseason games as the players learned just what is a penalty and what is allowed. Games began to flow much better at the tail end of the schedule after a multitude of penalties early on, but there is still an adjustment period.
I don't think the rules are that bad, it's just getting guys to move their feet and not be lazy,
said Turner Stevenson.
If we continue to do that, I think the players will keep on learning, but I sure don't think the learning curve is done yet.
I think the players learned a little bit. In the preseason they called a lot, and I think it's going to down a bit in the regular season and they aren't going to call as much,
added Peter Forsberg.
I don't think you're going to see 20 penalties each, maybe more like 10. It will be more than usual, but I don't think they are going to ruin the game.
Much has happened since the Flyers came within a goal of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004. After losing a season due to the work stoppage, the Flyers responded by making the biggest free-agent splash in the entire league with the additions of Forsberg, Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje. Stevenson and Mike Knuble are also newcomers, as are several young players from the Calder Cup-winning Phantoms last season.
The result is that the Flyers are the early favorites to win the Stanley Cup, according to several publications and odds makers. While that may seem like added pressure going into the season, the players don't view it as such.
We've had a good team here for lots of years, even before I came here,
said Kim Johnsson.
I think guys are used to that here. I don't see that as a problem. Actually, I think that's a plus.
Stevenson also views the predictions as something to embrace.
I think all athletes should. Whether you're on a team where they say that or not, it's a challenge every day to push each other individually and become a good team,
It's such a long year, and so many things can happen, but the talent is obviously here. We have to come together as a team, and it's all about the group gelling together. If we can do that, we have good character guys in here that have done that and won in other places. It's a challenge we can go ahead and take.
Regardless of the talent level, no team in the NHL is going to lie down just because of the roster that the Flyers have on paper.
You have to go out and perform every night,
said Forsberg. If you are not working hard, you're not going to win any games. That's what we have to get in our heads. We have to go out and out-work the other team. That's the mentality we have to have, to make sure we don't think we're better than anybody else."