With Wednesday being the only day off in a stretch of three games in four nights against some of the league’s top foes, just a handful of Flyers took part in an optional skate on Wednesday morning ahead of the team’s flight to St. Louis.
“It’s not an easy back-to-back we’re going into here,” said Brayden Schenn following the skate. “St. Louis is always a tough building to play in. They play hard there, they play physical and they play fast. Following that is Dallas, with travel, playing a very good Dallas team that’s scoring a lot of goals. It’s a huge challenge for us.”
Schenn and the Flyers continued to lament Tuesday’s shootout loss to the Islanders only in the form of wishing they’d had a better fate. The Flyers had probably the best offensive game of their season in terms of sustained pressure and pucks to the net, and were a couple of bounces and a nullified goal away from taking the win.
“We’re playing some good hockey as of late,” Schenn said. “We feel like we could have earned the two points very easy last night, but at the same time we’ll still take the one. It’s a very tough road trip coming ahead here and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
From his standpoint, Dave Hakstol only wants to see his team do more of what they did last night.
“The only thing we could control yesterday going into the game is what our performance and what our effort level was, coming off a game where we weren’t happy with our effort level,” Hakstol said. “We deserved better. We played a good hockey game. So we’ve got to get our rest today and now we’ve got to turn that around and get ready for a tough challenge going into St. Louis and make sure we’re ready to put another good game now on the road together.”
As for Schenn, he was one of several Flyers to have seven or more shot attempts in the game, and his six shots on goal were among the top four games of his career. He’d had a career-high eight back on November 17 vs. Los Angeles, and later was moved onto a line with Claude Giroux and Michael Raffl, where he’s continued to get scoring chances.
“I think when you play with G, he likes to have the puck quite a bit and you just try to get open for him,” Schenn said. “He’s very good at making those ten-foot plays and trying to find open guys. I think when you play with a guy like that, you’re going to have more offensive chances. So I’m just trying to shoot the puck and hopefully some will start going in here.”
MACDONALD MAKES SEASON DEBUT
Andrew MacDonald jumped right back into NHL action with both feet, playing 19:29 and blocking three shots in his season debut. MacDonald led the NHL in blocked shots two years ago, and led the Flyers in the game.
It was the first time Hakstol had coached MacDonald in the regular season, and the coach said he liked what he saw.
“I thought he had a real solid game,” Hakstol said. “Quietly he defended well and he moved the puck really well. That’s a big part of that role, especially coming into the lineup. [He] looks like he’s feeling good about his game, and he carried that through obviously playing very well [in Lehigh Valley], and I think he carried that right into our game yesterday.
MacDonald was part of the effort that did things like shut down John Tavares, holding the Isles star to just one shot attempt, a miss. But he deferred credit, noting that it was a full team effort.
“It’s not going to be one or two defensemen that shut him down,” MacDonald said. “Our forwards did a good job backchecking and for the most part I thought we did a good job in the offensive zone creating chances, and when they’re making them play defense, it’s tough for them to come 200 feet and get good chances themselves.”