The Flyers on Monday saw a small change to their round-robin schedule for the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament.
The club's final round-robin game against the Lightning was shifted from Sunday, Aug. 9, to Saturday, Aug. 8. The Bruins-Capitals game that was originally scheduled for Aug. 8 was moved to Aug. 9, which marks the final day of the round robin (see the Flyers' schedule).
The schedule tweak could have a slight impact on the Flyers' round-robin strategy. Playing the final game of the round robin would have allowed the Flyers to know exactly what was at stake in that contest, given the Capitals and Bruins would have already had played their three games. Now, the Flyers won't know as much, but they should still have a pretty clear indication on the implications of that Lightning game.
The Flyers' final game could have significant meaning for the club's attempt to improve its seed in the first round. It also could have little meaning depending on how the Flyers fare in their opening two round-robin games against the Bruins and Capitals. If they don't play well and drop those games, their last game against the Lightning would likely serve more as a tune-up for the first round and give Alain Vigneault an option to play some of his extras. The Flyers' head coach already has plans to play different lineups in the round robin (see story).
"For us, we're the fourth seed so we've kind of got nothing to lose," Travis Sanheim said last week. "It’s a good chance for us to get our game where it needs to be come playoff time. In saying that, we’re going to take every game like it's the playoffs and we need to win it. It’s going to be a good test. There are a lot of good teams in that round robin, I think it’s going to set us up well for when playoffs roll around."
The Bruins and Capitals will have a little more leverage playing the final game of the round robin. But being ready and healthy come the first round is the Flyers' ultimate focus in playing the round robin.
"Critical I think is a little too strong of a word," Kevin Hayes said last week of the round-robin importance. "You still don’t even know who you’re playing in the next round because they are going to be reseeding. They’re going to be serious games, for sure. You want to be at your best come that first round. I think those three games that you are going to be playing can only help us get to that point. They’re going to be serious games, but I think it’s going to make sure our systems are in the right spot and everyone knows what they’re doing."
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