VOORHEES, N.J. — With a rare four days between games, the Flyers packed a lot into an hour-long practice on Tuesday morning.
They also had a special guest cap it off.
Dick Vermeil, an NFL head coach for 15 seasons, including seven with the Eagles (1976-82) and a Super Bowl ring with the Rams (1999), visited the Flyers thanks to an invitation from captain Claude Giroux. Vermeil, who turned 81 years old last week and looks like he could still coach, spoke to the team following practice.
(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)
(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)
Vermeil met with the Flyers after media availability, so it's unknown what wisdom he imparted on the group and staff. But a little motivational pick-me-up from such a figure must have served as a nice boost during an extended break from game action.
Vermeil, all smiles and never one to hide his emotions, left with a team-signed Giroux jersey.
As for practice, the Flyers worked on many areas, featuring 1-on-1 drills, 2-on-1, 5-on-none and special teams.
"It all depends on what the schedule is," head coach Dave Hakstol said. "You try to manage the schedule. The practice days are really valuable, no question, and we've made a real point to make sure we get as many practice days as we possibly can. If we're going to take something out of the mix, it's going to be the morning skate. So we've done that when possible to this point. Now we have a pretty busy stretch from here on until Christmas."
The Flyers practice again Wednesday before welcoming the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night (7 p.m./NBC Sports Philadelphia). The team is enjoying the mini break but also sees the value in staying fresh with practice.
"I think the guys feel better when we skate," forward Travis Konecny said. "It's going to be good for us to rest, as far as that goes, but at the same time, when we skate, we feel better."
A 'Gudy' sighting
Defenseman Radko Gudas, who has missed the Flyers' past two games because of an upper-body injury, fully took part in practice and did not seem limited.
But that doesn't mean he has been cleared for Thursday's game. Gudas said he still must meet with team doctors before a decision is made regarding his return to the lineup.
"There's nothing really I can say at this point right now," Gudas said. "Trying to get back into it.
"I hate watching hockey, especially when my team is playing. That's the toughest for me every time, I want to go out and jump in there. Anything I can do to make it faster, I'm trying to do as much as I can."
The Flyers' defense has been snakebitten with injuries to Gudas, Andrew MacDonald (injured reserve, lower body) and Shayne Gostisbehere (missed three games, upper body). Gudas has been out since last Wednesday, when he took an inadvertent hit from Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad.
No worries here
Early in practice, Konecny was seen hobbling and hunched over in pain as drills continued. He slowly but surely rejoined the action and finished practice, even sharing a laugh with assistant coach Ian Laperriere as he got back in line.
"Puck off the foot," Konecny said afterward. "I'm fine."
Still no Patrick
Rookie center Nolan Patrick did not partake in practice but skated beforehand. Patrick has not played since Oct. 24 and is on injured reserve with an upper-body ailment.
Lines, pairings and goalies
Here were the Flyers' groupings in practice, with the goalies in no particular order.
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Jori Lehtera-Dale Weise
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl-Matt Read
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim-Mark Alt-Radko Gudas