(Philadelphia, PA, November 27) – A problem with the ice at the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone, forcing the team to practice at the Wachovia Center, was not nearly enough to ruin the positive atmosphere around the Flyers on Monday.
After all, the team is currently riding its best stretch of the season, with wins in four of the last seven games and points in six of the last nine. That success has helped lighten the mood of the team as it gets a couple of days off before facing the Nashville Predators on Wednesday at home.
"Hockey is always fun when you're winning," said Simon Gagne, who scored twice and added an assist in the Flyers' 4-2 win in Montreal on Saturday. "That's what we're playing for, and it's always more fun to come to the rink and practice after a win. The atmosphere has been very good lately and I think it's shown on the ice."
"Everybody is feeling great that we're playing better and we're excited for every game that comes up. It's a good feeling," said Peter Forsberg.
Despite the rocky start to the season, the Flyers know there is plenty of time left to gain ground and make a push for the playoffs. Currently, Philadelphia is 10 points behind the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
"I think everyone else wrote us off, but we knew we could play better than we did in the beginning," said Forsberg. "I think we've been showing that lately. It's a long way to go. We have a lot of points to catch up and we have to play really good hockey if we're going to do it. I don't think anyone in this dressing room ever wrote the season off."
"Even with what has happened we are not that far away," said Mike Knuble. "If you string some [wins] together, you are right back in it, especially when we start playing our division more."
With 58 games left in the regular season, the Flyers have reached a significant point in the year and cannot be complacent, according to John Stevens.
"It's early and there's lots of hockey left, but I think the whole critical point is that we don't rest on this recent success we've had," said Stevens. "We just have to take it as a positive, and use it as a time to really bear down and get better. I think it's a great sign that we've had success, especially on the road, but we just have to keep going."
Stevens also welcomes the break between games, as the team will have had three days without any game action after recently completing a stretch of 10 games in 17 days when they faceoff against the Predators on Wednesday night.
"We need some rest right now," he said. "Even though we had a little success and want to keep going, we really have not had time to practice. There are technical things we need to go back over in detail and we welcome these couple of days of practice here."
Knuble is hopeful that the Flyers can continue to improve in games and in practice.
"There are going to be some little things taking shape," he said. "It will be good to get Todd [Fedoruk] in there. Our young defensemen are going to get better. Hopefully, we can get some more guys chipping in that have started off slowly. We started off slowly as a team and I'm sure we'll all get going as we catch up here."
Timonen to Face Brother on Wednesday
Flyers rookie defenseman Jussi Timonen, who has been a pleasant surprise with his steady play on the blue line since being recalled from the Phantoms, will face his older brother Kimmo on Wednesday. Kimmo, also a defenseman, is eight years older than his younger brother.
"[We never played on] the same team and never against each other. I'm really excited about it," said Jussi, whose parents will be in attendance at the game.
Timonen has found success with fellow Finn Joni Pitkanen, who has improved with Timonen by his side.
"They read off of each other very well," said Stevens. "Jussi is kind of a guy where he's not looking to lug the puck end-to-end. He gets the puck, he's got his head up, and he's looking to make a quick outlet pass, and a lot of times that outlet pass is to Joni who gets himself in good position to receive the pass. They just seem to have a real good feel for each other. I know it's early, but they've done a lot of good things together."
Flu Bug Hits the Flyers
Pitkanen and Petr Nedved both missed Monday's practice as the flu bug has apparently stricken the Flyers. Geoff Sanderson also left the ice early on Monday with flu-like symptoms.
"The guys that are suffering from it, we thought it was best to just keep them away. Hopefully, we can just keep it isolated to just a couple guys and get it to feel better in a 24-hour period," said Stevens.
The Flyers will practice at the Wachovia Center again on Tuesday.