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Practice Update: Big game looms at the ACC

Flyers prepare for key matchup with one of the teams they are chasing for a wild card

by @NHLFlyers

Fresh off the heels of a 6-3 win in Buffalo, setting back the Sabres chances of climbing into the playoff picture, the Flyers hope to do the same as they visit the Maple Leafs Thursday night in Toronto.

The so-called 'four-point swing' is once again at play at a crucial time of the year. A win in regulation by the Flyers will pull them in a tie with the Leafs at 72 points, and depending on the results of the Islanders-Canucks game later that night, could bring them within one point of the last wild card.

Needless to say, everyone in the locker room knows what's at stake:

Brayden Schenn on the atmosphere of playing this time of year:

"Obviously it's a long season but I think this is what players live for, down the homestretch here where you have 20-15 games left. These are the fun and important games that guys want to be a part of and for us, it's a cliche answer, but they're playoff games."

Claude Giroux on sticking with the game plan and system:

"I've kind of said it before, we haven't had the results, but the way we're playing, we're playing the right way and we'll get our chances and a game like [Tuesday vs. Buffalo] is exactly what I was talking about. If we stay with it, we're going to have the results."

Steve Mason on focusing one game at a time:

"To be able to draw back on confidence, knowing that we've been here before and been successful with it, it's huge. The way the season is going to go for the rest of the year, there's going to be ebbs and flows, ups and downs so it's just a matter of staying even-keeled after a big win you gotta realize there's going to be another game either the next or the following day so its just a matter of making sure you come to the rink every day with the same mindset and that's to be the best team out there."

Mason has made the last four Flyers starts, leading the team to a 3-0-1 win while posting one shutout and a 1.45 goals-against average and .945 save percentage.

Jakub Voracek on the experience of having won in situations like this before:

"We've done it last year. We've come back from pretty big holes, so experience is a big part, especially adding Val [Filppula] into the lineup. He's a very experienced guy so down this stretch, hopefully it's going to help us."

Voracek has been a streaky point producer over the last month of action, recording points in eight of his last 11 games for eight points (3g-5a), while not going two straight games without finding the scoresheet.

Radko Gudas on the next game:

"Obviously we know this game is important. We spoke before the trip. Everybody knows where we're at, what the standings are… so everybody knows that every game is the biggest game of the season so far."

Gudas posted a season high three points in last night's win at Buffalo with a goal and two assists, while also recording a new career-high, plus-minus rating of +5.

Valtteri Filppula on chemistry of his line:

"I think so far we've been playing pretty well. I think we can still play better and it's going to happen as we get a few more games in, but definitely playing a lot of minutes you expect to get something done with those minutes, so hopefully I can do that."

Filppula has seen an increase in minutes since his first game as a Flyer, including significant time on the power play. He has played a total of 54:20 (averaging out to 18:06 as a Flyer), while logging nearly eight minutes on the power play (7:56). 

He has also been effective as that second line center on face-offs, going 50 percent or better in all three games, including 60 percent in Tuesday's win at Buffalo.

The Flyers take on the Leafs for the third and final time on Thursday. The team's split the season series thus far with each team winning on home ice. Puck drop is 7:30 p.m. and can be viewed on CSN or listen live on 97.5 The Fanatic.

Video: Interviews & highlights from practice at Toronto

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