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Practice Report: Ready to hit the road

Flyers return from holiday break to face the longest road stretch of season

by @NHLFlyers

The Flyers gathered in Voorhees today for their first practice since breaking for the holiday. It was a full 45-minute skate which was followed by a five-plus hour flight to San Jose as the club begins their longest road trip of the season - six games in 12 days through the New Year.

Below are news, notes & quotes from the skate:

* The Flyers will play the longest road trip of any team this season - tied with Pittsburgh in terms of number of games being six. With their home record being the best in the NHL in terms of points percentage (.789) at 13-2-4, the road record hasn't been as kind (.472) at 8-9-1.

* To throw a little more bad news out there, this trip hasn't been kind to the Flyers in recent history. They have gone a combined 2-11-3 in post-holiday trips over the last four seasons.

However, Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault welcomes the challenge.

VIGNEAULT: "I don't see any difficulty really. I like this trip... we're going on the road for 12 days, we have six big games. As a team that considers themselves a playoff team, you need to have a good road record, so it's an opportunity to upgrade our road record, which is a game below .500 right now, so it's a good test."
The break did allow much needed rest for some injured players. Most notably Scott Laughton, who has missed the last five games with a pulled groin. He was going full out in practice and was on line rushes on the left side of the third line with Frost at center and Voracek on the right.

LAUGHTON: "We'll see, a three-day break with kind of a fragile injury, so I have to see with all the travel, talk to Jimmy [McCrossin] and see what's going on. It's feeling better and better every day, that's all I can say." 

* One Flyer who has had this trip marked from the very beginning of the season is Justin Braun, who will make his first return to San Jose on Saturday since being traded to the Flyers in the offseason. Braun was drafted by the Sharks in 2007, spent the previous nine seasons and over 600 games on the blueline.

BRAUN: "Oh yeah, I looked for that one right away [on when the Flyers traveled to San Jose]. You want to know when you're going there, how mentally prepared you have to be and when you gotta do it. I'm just hoping it goes smooth." 

* Finally, what every fan wants to know is the goaltending situation. Vigneault wouldn't commit to the next two games, but stated that Carter Hart will get the call in net vs. San Jose. All numbers point to Elliott on Sunday with it being a back-to-back, especially since it will be in a "less-than-24-hour span" with travel involved.

VIGNEAULT: "We're playing a back-to-back - I'm not crazy about the fact that they're making us again play back-to-back in [less than] 24-hours, but 21, 22... but we've done it a few times this year so I guess you just gotta get used to it."

The one advantage they will have is that they open up against the Sharks, who are in action tonight at the SAP Center, against their division rival, the LA Kings.

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