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Practice Update: The Final Week

Flyers head into last week of games looking to clinch playoff berth

by PhiladelphiaFlyers.com @NHLFlyers

The Flyers resumed practice on Saturday at the club's training facility in Voorhees, NJ after a day off. It's also likely that they had their final full and long practice remaining in the regular season with the upcoming April schedule seeing games every other day.

As the Flyers enter this stretch, they continue to be in a fight for the playoffs and playoff positioning. Below are news, notes and quotes to come out of practice...

THE FINAL WEEK

Sunday's game will kick off an April where the Flyers will play four games in a seven-day span, which features three on home ice. They enter the stretch drive having earned points in seven straight games, posting a 4-0-3 record.

"First and foremost we have to get into the playoffs. We have to clinch a spot," said Wayne Simmonds. "We still have to play with urgency. You still have to get points. As much good hockey as we've played of late, we have to play just as good and even better going down the stretch here. We've got four games this week. It's a lot of hockey and we need to make the best of it."

Simmonds, Voracek and Hakstol weigh in on what lies ahead this week, along with highlights of practice itself are below:

Video: The team prepares for the final stretch

 

GOALIE SITUATION

Prior to stepping on the ice, Flyers GM Ron Hextall gave an update concerning the goaltending situation.

Michal Neuvirth is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury he suffered in the club's 2-1 win at Colorado on Wednesday, while Alex Lyon is now back with the team on emergency conditions from the Phantoms. Lyon participated in a full practice alongside Petr Mrazek and Brian Elliott.

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol talked about the revolving door of goaltenders and how that has put the team in a good position in the final week of play.

"It's an abnormal situation. I haven't looked back and studied any past history, but injuries are always part of the game. Sometimes it seems like when you get one at the particular position, some other follow, but I've never had it at the goaltender position quite the same. Yet, I think that speaks to the quality and depth of goaltending in the organization. Obviously the move by [Hextall] to bring Petr [Mrazek] in was an important one for us and I think what it speaks most loudly to is everybody, including the goaltenders, everybody is doing their part."

 

MORE OF MOOSE

Brian Elliott talked yesterday on his rehab and limited skating due to it being a day off for the team. Today, Elliott skated for the first time with the entire team, which was another step in getting back into the lineup, and according to him, it was a very important one:

"It's been a constant ramping up of intensity and this is a big step for me," said Elliott of playing against his teammates. "It takes a little bit of time to get back into it, but I felt a lot better than expected and hopefully it keeps trending in that direction. It's a different bird when you're going under controlled skates and shots to just going out there and reacting and playing hockey, so it was fun today."

Elliott reiterated that his plan, although there is limited time and very important games to be played, is to hopefully be in a position where he can return before the end of the regular season.

 

RAFFL RETURN? 

Skating alongside Elliott on Friday's day off was Michael Raffl, who also joined his teammates on the ice in today's full practice. Raffl has been out with an upper-body injury since leaving the Mar. 18 game vs. Washington, missing the last five games.

It's unknown when Raffl will return to the lineup as he was taking shifts on a line with Dale Weise and Taylor Leier. 

 

BOSTON AWAITS

The first test of April is a Boston team that challenging for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, one point behind Tampa, with two games in hand. This makes Sunday's game crucial for both teams.

The Bruins will be playing their third game in a four-day span, while the Flyers will have had three full days in between games. The season series hasn't gone the Flyers way, dropping both contests with their last meeting a heartbreaker in the final seconds of regulation in Boston.

"I think they're the best team in the league since December," said Jakub Voracek. "Obviously it's a big challenge for us. I think we played a pretty good road game when we played there a couple weeks back and it's going to be a tough one... I think the first period in Colorado was the best period of the year for us... so we have to have the same start and see what happens."

Puck drop is 12:30 with the broadcast in front of a national audience on NBC, or listen live on 93.3 WMMR.

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