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PRACTICE UPDATE: Refreshed and Ready

Flyers return from bye week ready to make playoff push

by PhiladelphiaFlyers.com @NHLFlyers / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

After a disappointing weekend heading into the bye week, the mood of the players and coaches were that the NHL mandated bye week came at just the right time.

Well, the team is back and a full roster took part in a long practice at the Skatezone in Voorhees feeling good about the position they're in and what they have to do to get back to their winning ways from earlier in season.

"We have a lot of hockey to play and we're still in the playoff picture so it's easy to be optimistic in here," said Wayne Simmonds. "Our commitment to doing everything. Back-checking, playing stronger in our defensive zone and creating offensively. We just have to play more like we did a the beginning of the year."

Video: Simmonds, Voracek and coach Hakstol on returningThe Flyers remain in the thick of the playoff hunt at 50 points and are tied for the final wild card position in the Eastern Conference with a majority of their games left to be played against the East, and specifically 20 games against the Metropolitan Division.

After one practice, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol agreed with the players assessment, taking the bye week as a positive and coming back recharged both physically and mentally ready to play.

"In one regard, you don't get the result that you deserve, but for me the biggest thing is just our overall performance," added Hakstol. "Coming out of a break? That might be a tough thing to do is to put it all together, but I think the energy will be there both mentally and physically. That's important to the overall performance."

With a full five days off, no roster moves were made and similar to last year's run after the trade deadline, the players know and have confidence that what's in the room is what's going to lead them back to success.

"Just because things are going bad doesn't mean you have to jump ship right away," said Shayne Gostisbehere. "For us, we know we have the guys in the room to do it and we have the system to do it too, so it's just about us - how we go out there and mentally prepare and focus and put a good 60 minutes out there."

Goaltender Steve Mason took extra time at the end of practice taking shots and knows that as quickly as you can dig yourself into a hole, you can certainly dig yourself out of one.  

"We have an understanding that we put ourselves in this position and it's up to ourselves to get us out of it. I don't think guys are looking for outside help to help us along here. I think everybody is confident that we can do it internally. It's just a matter of each guy focused on their own individual job and nothing more than that."

5 ON 5 FOCUS
One area of improvement that has stood out lately is the team's 5 on 5 play, which has had just three goals in the last four games with five of the team's last eight goals coming on the power play.

It's an area they know is important heading down the stretch in March and April.

"Obviously we have to get better at that," said Jakub Voracek. "We know that special teams win and lose some games, but over a longer period of time, especially heading into the playoffs, you have to be good 5 on 5. There's not many power plays in the playoffs."

Added Voracek: "How to improve it? Like I said, not overthink things. If you're going to this spot, the other guy knows it for certain and he gets your back so we just need to make sure we skate well, lose that rust and get some confidence."

The Flyers will get back to a busy schedule right away, playing another set of back-to-backs over the weekend beginning with the Devils on Saturday (7 p.m., CSN & 97.5 The Fanatic) and then traveling to Brooklyn to take on the Islanders on Sunday evening.

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