VOORHEES, N.J. – The locker room is empty. The last Flyer to leave the room, Mark Streit, finished up his interview with reporters and headed for the private lounge.
The gathered media, having gleaned all the quotes they need for their daily stories for the day have vacated the premises. The only sound is the low hum of the lighting in the room.
Suddenly, the silence is broken as a couple of late stragglers enter the room. It is brothers Brayden and Luke Schenn.
“Hey, did you wear your new skates,” Luke asked Brayden.
“Yeah,” said Brayden. “They felt good.”
“I think I’m going to give mine a go tomorrow,” Luke replied.
“Good stuff,” said Brayden.
Who knows where the conversation would have gone next if Brayden wasn’t interrupted by a series of questions from the last person waiting in the room.
But the inquisitor had some interesting questions. Like, why do Brayden and Luke always stay on the ice well after practice is over?
|Luke Schenn has been staying late after practice working on his game for much of the season. He has been joined by a handful of teammates, including his brother Brayden. |
“We’ve always done that,” Brayden said. “We didn’t play junior together, but I know he did it there and I did it there too. It’s something we used to do as kids too – grab a partner and work on whatever you need to work on – your hands, your shot, your quick feet, your skating shape – anything to try to improve as a player.
“We always spent a lot of time, whether it was on our outdoor rink or after a practice it’s fun being out there with the guys getting that extra time.”
The Schenns are often joined by Braydon Coburn and Hal Gill. Lately Steve Downie has joined their group. It’s a cadre of players who believe in the collective in the locker room and that attention to even little details taken after practice can make a difference at this, the most crucial time in a hockey season.
“Our practices have been short, but they’ve been hard and on point,” said Scott Hartnell. “We have been focused on getting back to system play. The teams that play the system the best and with the least amount of mistakes are going to win. We have to be sharp and focused and ready to work.”
And it seems like the Flyers are.
Craig Berube skated the Flyers, who were a full roster Sunday minus Kimmo Timonen who has yet to return from Russia where he won a bronze medal in the Sochi games, like they had just had a terrible outing the day before.
There was a bag skate. There was competitive drills along the walls, there was three-on-three drills in closed quarters. The tempo was fast and furious – trying to simulate game conditions to get everything back where it needs to be.
“We are trying to get them in that mindset of the game,” coach Craig Berube said. “Tomorrow we will do some full ice scrimmages and get back into it. I think it’s important that you get some game stuff in there for the best of their abilities. The intensity won’t be as much as a game, but we can get it high enough where it’s effective.”
And the players really want to play again. The Olympic break was nice and all, but they are itching to get back at it, with 23 games to go in the regular season.
“The break was good mentally for a lot of the guys,” said Brayden Schenn. “But you can just tell around the room that there’s a good atmosphere here right now. Guys are already ready to go because it is the most important and exciting part of the season.”
NOTES: The Flyers will not skate Tuesday, but will have off-ice workouts in Voorhees… Erik Gustafsson on Sweden’s 3-0 loss to Canada in the Olympic gold-medal game: “I woke up early for nothing.” Gustafsson and fellow Swede Nick Grossmann also lamented the loss of Niklas Backstrom prior to the gold medal game due to taking an allergy pill and having it send up a red flag for the IOC.
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