After a full day off, the Flyers returned to the ice for a rare "full" practice at their training facility in Voorhees, NJ.
One notable difference out on the ice was forward Wayne Simmonds rejoining the team in line rushes and contact drills, which signals a return to the lineup could be coming soon... as in tomorrow.
"I feel pretty good. I'm looking to come into the lineup tomorrow and make an impact," said Simmonds to the media following practice. "I feel good, skating and everything out there - shooting, passing and everything like that."
The return will give the Flyers a bigger boost across the board in terms of size, offense, physicality and perhaps most important, more balanced lines.
"I just have to come back in and play my role, right? Usually I like to score goals. I try to score goals as much as I possible can so hopefully this helps the team out."
Simmonds took shifts with Jordan Weal and Valtteri Filppula at center, a spot that he's familiar with having played with them numerous times before... and having success on that line.
"It gives us four lines that we have confidence in," said Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol. "With [Filppula], Weal and [Simmonds] it's a line that can play 200 feet, play hard and as well, always be a threat offensively."
Added Simmonds: "We've played well together. Last year we did well, we played earlier this year together but we didn't play together for too long. We need a solid third line. I think, obviously it helps to spread things out and alleviate the pressure off the top two [lines]. We just need to have a more balanced team and I think that will help going into the playoffs."
TOUGH ROAD AHEAD
What lies ahead for the Flyers is a demanding schedule, against tough opponents. Each of the next four opponents all sit in either first or second place in their division - Pittsburgh, Boston, Winnipeg & Vegas - and they will play all of them in a six-day span.
"The schedule... that's what it is - this time of year, everybody's playing every second day. You're playing against good teams that are all fighting for something," added Hakstol. "Sometimes the teams that are a few points out of it are even tougher to play against because they're playing well and playing loose. Everybody is battling for something and everybody has a busy schedule so that's just part of the rhythm this time of year, and you have to be successful at it in that rhythm."
The schedule kicks off with Wednesday Night Rivalry against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center. Puck drop is 8 p.m. on NBCSN or listen live on 97.5 The Fanatic. From there, the Flyers will fly to Boston to take on the Bruins the very next night in a 7 p.m. start time.
TROOPS CALLED IN
Following practice today, a group from the Joint Base McGuire/Dix-Lakehurst were the Flyers special guests in the locker room and treated them to a lunch in the meal room.
The Flyers maintain a close connection to the base, hosting them each year, and the head coach said the visit was a humbling experience for not just the team, but for his coaching staff as well.
"It's pretty special to have a little bit of interaction with the all of the people that are here from the joint base today. It's pretty humbling to just take a second and take a step back and think about everything that they do. I think it's really hard to put it in perspective with just a few words."