(Whistler, British Columbia) – After more than two days of bonding in the woods, the Philadelphia Flyers are set to resume the season once again when they face the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night (10:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
In fact, after the many various activities the team went through, combined with the four days off between games, it’s like another opening day to Simon Gagne.
“It feels a little like the start of the season,” he said.
The Flyers wrapped up their team-building excursion in Whistler on Monday afternoon, with closed door meetings in which the players laid out their expectations to their teammates and the coaching staff. For a Flyers roster that is still getting to know each other, it was important to go through these drills while the season is still young.
“Pretty much anywhere you go with a group of guys it’s going to be a fun time, but to go to a nice place like Whistler with the nice accommodations and then get the team together for that stuff during the day was pretty beneficial, especially for a new guy, to get to know everyone a little better,” said Joffrey Lupul. “I definitely feel a lot more comfortable around the guys than from the time I got here.”
|R.J. Umberger will make his season debut on Wednesday against Vancouver. (Getty Images) |
The 1-1 Flyers now have the challenge of cracking arguably the best goaltender in the game in Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks. Luongo was hurt in the Canucks’ 4-3 overtime win on Saturday over the Calgary Flames, but he finished out that game and should be ready on Wednesday night.
“He’s one of the best goalies in the league and capable of winning a game by himself,” said Gagne. “We’re going to have to put a lot of traffic in front of him and if we don’t score on the first one then score on rebounds.”
Gagne’s linemate, Danny Briere
, doesn’t want to think too much about the guy between the pipes.
“I don’t think we should worry about Luongo,” he said. “What we should worry about is trying to get the puck to the net as much as possible. We know he’s one of the best goalies in the league and we know he’s going to be there, so the only thing we can do is create traffic in front of him and hopefully pucks will find their way through.”
While the Flyers had a successful first game in one of the toughest buildings in the league against the Calgary Flames to open the season, they were not pleased with the way they lost to Edmonton on Saturday despite being in the game for the duration. The Oilers held a 16-4 advantage in shots after the first period on Saturday, so coming out of the gate with lots of energy will be a focal point for the team on Wednesday.
The days off should help.
“Edmonton came out and with a lot of speed and we maybe weren’t ready to face it,” said Gagne. “I think these days here gave us a little bit of rest and fill up the tank a bit.”
“We were almost sitting around waiting to see what they were going to do, rather than initiating our game plan,” said Stevens of the 5-3 loss. “I thought we did that in Calgary. We got pucks in deep right away, we were moving our feet and we had composure with the puck. Hopefully, in the Edmonton game, that was something we learned.”Umberger Ready
The Flyers will get a familiar face back in the lineup on Wednesday when R.J. Umberger makes his season debut. Umberger was recovering from a broken left pinkie finger suffered during a preseason game in Ottawa.
He skated on Monday and Tuesday at left wing with Joffrey Lupul and Mike Richards.
“I want to get in a couple hits, and get the puck to the net,” said Umberger of what he hopes to accomplish in his first game. “I know Richie has been playing real well so I’ll kind of just feed off of him. I just want to get into it right away.”
Lupul welcomes the debut of Umberger on his line.
“It looks good. He’s got a big body and skates well,” said Lupul.