After a full day of travel from California, the Flyers had Sunday off and got back to work at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Monday. The task at hand, prepare to face off against a Predators team that ripped through the Western Conference en route to the Stanley Cup Final this past June.
TOUGHEST TASK YET
Not only are the Flyers taking on a tough, come-at-you style of attack that the Predators bring to the ice, they will be doing so at the end of a long road trip that saw them play three big teams.
"They know each other so well," said Radko Gudas. "They're a fast, skilled team. They have players that can change the course of the game from one or two actions so we just have to make sure that we're a 100 percent focused defensively and we're staying on top of them all the time."
Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol ran a full practice that saw several up-tempo drills, as well as battling drills in close quarters with two nets approximately 20 yards apart.
"They had a [heck] of a playoff run last year for a reason and we'll see a good team tomorrow night," said Hakstol. "They play with a lot of pace. Their [defense] presents a pretty good challenge, not only up the ice but in their zone, they're hard on pucks, they're hard at the net-front offensively."
Oh, and about those Western Conference Champions, they will be raising their first such banner in team history on Wednesday marking the third "home-opening" ceremony to sit through.
Wayne Simmonds, who was also named the NHL's Third Star of the Week, knows all to well how important these games can be not to have a let down at the end of long road trips.
Video: Hear from Simmonds as the team prepares for NSH
BONDING AS A RESULT
It's easy to sit and dwell on a tough-luck schedule to open the season, especially off the heels of an ultra competitive camp, but the optimist would take note and look at the added benefit of starting a season nine-days on the road.
It puts you in an environment surrounded by teammates for an extended period of time, forcing an atmosphere to bond very quickly with new line mates, d-partners and even the coaching staff.
"I would agree," said Gudas. "We had a day off in LA and had a good day yesterday too so it was fun to get to know all the guys and get together. The team is only just getting to know each other and that's a good thing for us."
For the rookies, the time is invaluable and has adjusted them to NHL life much more quickly.
"It's helped me, this kind of road trip in the beginning," said Robert Hagg, who other than a one-game stint at the end of last season, is in a brand new situation after spending four years with the Phantoms. "I'm starting to know guys better and all that kind of stuff, but the main focus is just to win games and I think we've done a pretty good job so far."
PATRICK ENJOYING THE SHIFT
Nolan Patrick centered a line with Travis Konecny and Dale Weise on his wing - a change from preseason and the first two games of the season. While Patrick got his first NHL point on the power-play, he says that playing on his new line felt just as comfortable, if not more so.
"Yeah, I felt really good with those guys. I really like TK's [Travis Konecny] game, how he doesn't back down at all and gets on pucks. He plays fast. He creates space for me and Weiser [Dale Weise]. Weiser's a good shooter. He's smart out there. He makes big plays. I think everyone brings something different to the line and I really liked playing with those guys."
Those guys were very close to ending the game against Anaheim before Simmonds pulled off the overtime heroics.
In the final minute of play, Patrick found Konecny from behind the net and Konecny's one-timer from the low slot was just stopped by Ducks' John Gibson.
"I've always thought I've had good vision and good at making plays down there," said Patrick of playing below the goal line. "I don't know if I pride myself from only making plays from down there, but I think in this league there's not much off the rush, everyone backtracks pretty hard, so I think that's where all the offense is going to come, down there, so I just try to make quick cut backs and make plays."
GM TALKS TRADE
Not to be lost in a day of more than a few announcements is a trade the Flyers pulled off.
The Flyers acquired netminder Dustin Tokarski from the Anaheim Ducks for future considerations. See full press release HERE.
Flyers GM Ron Hextall talked about the move saying the primary objective was to add to their goaltending depth after the injury to Anthony Stolarz, who is out long-term.
"We feel like Dustin has experience in the regular season and the playoffs so we felt like it's an upgrade," added Hakstol. "Number one, he's competitive. He works hard. He's a little bit of an undersized goalie, but he's quick, agile and we think he's going to be a good fit."
Tokarski has just that - NHL experience not just limited to the regular season, but saw action several playoff games for the Montreal Canadiens after Carey Price was injured in 2014. He will join goaltender Alex Lyon at the club's AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley.
The Flyers face off against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Philadelphia and on the radio at 97.5 The Fanatic.