Yet, no one had to endure the grueling start the Flyers did. Consider the following:
-After tomorrow night’s game at the Wells Fargo Center against Florida, the Flyers will have played 19 games in the season’s first 34 days, more than any other team in the NHL.
-Tonight is the Flyers’ 12th road game in their first 18 games – most in the NHL.
-Tomorrow completes the sixth set of back-to-back games the Flyers have played in the opening month. The six sets – you guessed it, most in the NHL. And, of those 12 back-to-back games nine were on the road.
The schedule-maker was not kind, to say the least.
And yet, if they can find a way to stop the talented Penguins tonight in Pittsburgh – where the Flyers have had good success since the Pens opened their new building a couple years ago – and follow that up with a win against the Panthers, they’ll find themselves at the .500 mark after that gauntlet of a schedule.
“It’ll be good to get home,” said coach Peter Laviolette. “It’s been a lot of time away from home and a lot of games in a lot of nights. In some of those games I’ve liked what we’ve done and in a lot of them we needed to be better, but getting back home and getting the schedule set up in our favor and knowing you’re going to see guys on the ice that have not been on the ice due to injury – all that adds up to a positive.”
And it’s true, the Flyers are expecting to get both Scott Hartnell and Andrej Meszaros back soon – maybe as soon as Monday against Toronto.
And yes, the schedule does begin to play in their favor.
Although games are still coming in rapid succession, almost on an every-other-night basis, and there are still four more sets of back-to-backs to traverse after tomorrow, the Flyers will be home for a good while.
Tomorrow begins the first of two season-long five-game home stands as the Flyers will play 13 of their next 18 games at the Wells Fargo Center.
And, built into that schedule is an unexpected six-day break in mid-March.
Many people believe it will take 40-of-62 possible remaining points up for grabs for the Flyers to make the playoffs, and if that is the case, there’s no better way for the schedule to play out for them then to be predominantly on home ice.
Kurtis Foster wasn’t at the morning practice today. That coupled with him being a scratch in the last two games led to speculation that he might be injured.
Instead, it was something far more joyous for him and his family.
His wife Stephanie gave birth to their second son Tuesday in Philadelphia. Charles John Foster weighed in at 7pounds, 15 ounces.
Kurtis went home to be with his wife and flew back to Pittsburgh in time to be with his team for their big game against the Penguins.
Congrats to Kurtis, Stephanie and big brother Jackson on their new addition.
One of the erstwhile features on this blog is the “Lavy ‘Play with Some Jam’ quote of the day.”
Well, today it was more than just one quote.
After a report in the Philadelphia Daily News suggested that Penguins coach Dan Bylsma is the frontrunner to be the head coach of Team USA in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympics – assuming the NHL and the IIHOC work out their bickering – and that Laviolette would be one of his assistants, some of the reporters started asking both coaches today about the possibility of sharing a bench.
This is interesting because of the famous shouting match that took place last season when Laviolette stood on the boards between the two benches screaming at Bylsma and Pens assistant coach Tony Granato, who is a friend of Laviolette’s.
While Bylsma was pretty glib about it, joking that he doesn’t like the fact that Laviolette wears an orange tie and that whenever he’s over Granato’s home, he asks that the assistant coach turn his wedding pictures backward because Laviolette was in the wedding, Laviolette was… well… not as willing to share old stories – letting everyone know that Flyers-Pens is serious business.
Here is his exchange with reporters trying to get some comments about Bylsma and Granato:
Reporter: Bylsma was talking about the fact that you guys are rivals but that you two have talked a little bit at coaches meetings and mentioned that you were in Granato’s wedding and he tells Tony to turn his pictures around when he goes there. Did you guys get close with Team USA?
Reporter: Tony Granato.
Lavy: Tony and I?
Lavy: Tony and I played together through USA Hockey and through the Rangers organization, so I know Tony from way back.
Reporter: You guys are that close?
Lavy: You want to write a sentimental story today? I’m going to pass on the sentiment today and focus on how we can take care of the Penguins tonight. Tony and I are good friends. Time passes on and you lose touch a little bit with friends, but, Tony’s a good guy.
Another Reporter: So, you don’t want to share any –
Lavy: (cutting him off) Enough of this sentimental crap! You got anything else?
A third Reporter: Is Bylsma on your Christmas card list?
Lavy: Moving Forward here.
End of Press conference.
Yep, he wears it on his sleeve. Philadelphia couldn’t ask for anything more.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AnthonySan37