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Flyers Reflect on Long Day; Arrive in Atlanta

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

Atlanta, GA – The NHL schedule is not always kind. Every team must go through stretches of arriving in cities at strange hours or having to play an opponent that is well rested. For the Flyers, the day after Christmas was about as unforgiving a day as they could have possibly had to endure – yet the team still found a way to defeat the Florida Panthers in a shootout, 3-2.

"It was pretty weird," said Simon Gagne. "It was a very long day to get up so early in the morning and go to the airport, jump in the plane and try to sleep in the plane. The way I was feeling yesterday was I was very tired and I couldn't sleep.

"We got [to Florida] around 11:00 and practiced at 11:30. We got back to the hotel around 1:00 and got maybe an hour and a half or two hours to try and get some sleep after that. Then, it was pretty hot in that building, so it was tough. It was not an easy day. But, we fought our way through."

Normally in the NHL, a team will arrive the night before the game and check into the hotel for a good night's sleep and then practice at the arena the next morning. Even when a team is playing back-to-back games in different cities, the Flyers will travel directly to the next city and check into the hotel no matter what time they arrive to ensure that everyone has the chance to get at least a decent night's sleep.

Instead, the Flyers charter left Philadelphia at 7:00 a.m. for a two-and-a-half hour flight into Ft. Lauderdale, bussed directly to the rink for practice, and then returned back to the hotel for a team meal prior to the game, all in the same day.

"I've had days before like that in Sweden, but over here that was the first time, especially with a long flight like that," said Kim Johnsson. "Back home we always used to do that. Every game day we would take the bus for three hours and play, so I was a little used to it."

The Flyers spent Monday night in Florida after the game, also a break from the normal routine, and flew to Atlanta on Tuesday morning for practice at the Thrashers' training facility.

Philadelphia will be looking to avenge arguably their toughest loss of the season the last time these two teams met on November 18 at the Wachovia Center. In that game, Atlanta scored twice late in regulation to tie the score, and then a breakaway goal in overtime by Greg deVries gave the Thrashers the 6-5 victory.

"We remember the last game when they beat us in the last couple of seconds in the game," said Gagne. "We were in good shape at that point, but they still won that game. Every time you play a team at home or on the road it's different. They are going to come a lot stronger at home than they did against us in Philly. They have so much talent offensively and if we make some mistakes they are going to make us pay. That's something we can't afford tomorrow night."

"We know they are an excellent team that has been playing well lately," said Jeff Carter. "They are pretty good offensively and are going to have to put forth our best effort, especially in our own zone."

Sami Kapanen was back on the ice on Tuesday morning after missing Monday's game with the flu, but Chris Therien was out with the same symptoms on Tuesday. … R.J. Umberger practiced on the line with Peter Forsberg and Gagne, while Mike Knuble was on a line with Carter and Ben Eager.
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