PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers had one morning skate to get a handle on the style of play new coach Craig Berube wanted to see. The result was a 2-1 win Tuesday against the Florida Panthers.
In the ensuing two days, the players came to a greater understanding of how Berube -- elevated from assistant coach Monday after Peter Laviolette was fired -- wants them to play. They now feel far more comfortable heading into their game Friday against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes.
"I think we worked really hard," forward Scott Hartnell said. "We were focused the time we were on the ice. We had a few meetings. I think everyone felt a little uncomfortable with the new system, but after a few days of practice everyone should be dialed in. We just have to get things done."
Berube said he didn't expect the players to have everything down pat after two practices, but what he has seen so far has been positive.
"I like the work and the skating of it," he said. "The system will be a bit more sound in their head after practicing. I like the work. Guys put in good work. The skating was good."
Berube frequently has mentioned how his team's play without the puck was something that had to improve, as well as defensive positioning.
"Positioning is one thing, especially in your own end," Berube said. "That's real important. Just better sticks in your own end and checking better, being physical down low, knocking people off the puck. Positioning more than anything, being in the right position to defend."
Hartnell said part of the team's structure is a departure from the way Laviolette wanted the team to play.
"Left-wing lock, being a left winger, I didn't mind it," he said. "You just basically stood on the left wing in the neutral zone and waited for the puck to come to you or players to come into your lane. This one, it doesn't matter who's up to the ice first. You're skating, you're always moving. So we have to have our skating legs under us.
"It's been a lot of skating, some of the hardest practices I've had in years. You've got to be in shape, got to be ready to go. [Berube's] big thing, too, is you have to be working hard at skating, but you have to use your head as well. If you play good defense, things are going to happen. Not just defensive-zone coverage, it's reloads making sure you have a high F3 [third forward] in the offensive zone. That leads to good defense. If we don't get guys caught and play hard, we're going to be a tough team to play against."
After two hard days of practice and with their game Friday followed by another contest Saturday at the Detroit Red Wings, Friday was an optional skate, with just eight skaters on the ice, as well as both goaltenders. Steve Mason was the first goaltender to skate off, making it likely he'll start for the third straight game.
The Coyotes, who got third-period goals from Michael Stone and Antoine Vermette in their 4-2 win at the Red Wings on Thursday, did not skate Friday morning. But with Mike Smith having started his fourth straight game Thursday, it's likely Thomas Greiss will get his first start as a member of the Coyotes on Friday.
Here are the projected lines for Friday:
Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan
Martin Hanzal - Mike Ribeiro - Radim Vrbata
Lauri Korpikoski - Kyle Chipchura - David Moss
Paul Bissonnette - Rob Klinkhammer - Tim Kennedy
Zbynek Michalek - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Rostislav Klesla - Michael Stone
Scratched: David Rundblad, David Schlemko, Brandon Yip
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds
Brayden Schenn - Vincent Lecavalier - Jakub Voracek
Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Maxime Talbot
Kris Newbury - Adam Hall - Zac Rinaldo
Kimmo Timonen - Luke Schenn
Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann
Andrej Meszaros - Mark Streit
Scratched: Jay Rosehill, Hal Gill, Erik Gustafsson