Monday's trade deadline no sweat for Flyers

Monday's trade deadline no sweat for Flyers

MONTREAL — They’re watching it. They’re following it. But the Flyers don’t appear to be sweating it too much as the NHL’s 3 p.m. Monday trade deadline fast approaches.

As they wrapped up an abbreviated practice Sunday afternoon at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the team had just learned that Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec had been dealt to the Maple Leafs, and the rumors are swirling regarding Montreal captain Max Pacioretty. 

“I know what’s going on,” Jakub Voracek said. “It’s different. I haven’t been in this situation since my first year here (2011-12). Obviously it feels pretty good, but you never know what’s going to happen no matter what position you are in.”

It’s the first time the Flyers, sitting pretty in second in the Metropolitan Division as of Sunday morning and owners of a five-game win streak and points in their last 10 games, have been a potential buyer since Ron Hextall took over as general manager in 2014, and consequently, there’s no real threat of trading players to Cup-contending teams like we’ve seen in previous seasons. 

Still, Hextall elected to stay behind in Voorhees, New Jersey, fielding phone calls and performing his due diligence as the Flyers prepare to face the Canadiens Monday night. He’s already given up conditional draft pick(s) to acquire goaltender Petr Mrazek from Detroit, and he may consider adding depth to a team with a solid nucleus.

And, keep in mind, it has reserves on the way when goalies Michal Neuvirth and Brian Elliott get healthy and Wayne Simmonds returns from his injury in the coming weeks.

“We have good chemistry inside that locker room,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “From my standpoint, our whole focus has been finding ways to get better from within — from within our dressing room and from within our own organization. If there’s a move or a decision that has to be made that Hex feels will make us better, I’m sure he’ll look at that in every way, but our job is to take care of our own business.”

Right now, that’s the perplexity of a playoff team that could benefit from adding experience. At the same time, there’s a risk tinkering with the chemistry that has developed over the past three months — a team that has endured and bonded following a 10-game winless streak to become one of the top six teams in the Eastern Conference with a 25-8-3 record and 53 points since Dec 4. 

“We’ve done a good job of playing as a team and sticking together, especially when you lose 10 in a row,” captain Claude Giroux said. “I think you see the true colors of players and we didn’t have any negative things with this group. It’s definitely a positive. We like where this team is headed. Whatever Hexy decides at the deadline, that’s his decision, but we like who we have in this room.”

Hextall has stated previously that he believes major deadline deals don’t usually yield the desired playoff results, and he’s definitely not looking to mortgage the future by giving up prized prospects.

So don’t hold your breath that Hextall joins the likes of the Penguins, who dealt for Derrick Brassard, and Bruins, who acquired Rick Nash on Sunday morning, who are taking an “all-in” approach with the postseason nearing. 

As for the Flyers, they’re breathing a little easier as well. 

Flyers vs. Penguins Stadium Series game still on as scheduled ... for now

Flyers vs. Penguins Stadium Series game still on as scheduled ... for now

The game goes on … for now.

Concerns have grown throughout the week about the expected rainfall for Saturday night's Stadium Series game between the Flyers and Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field on NBC.

However, the game will continue as scheduled, according to the NHL, which released the following statement Friday afternoon:

Despite there being some level of precipitation in the forecast, the National Hockey League continues preparations for tomorrow's 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins. The League is monitoring the conditions and, as of now, the game is still on as originally scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Lincoln Financial Field. The NHL will issue a further update by 12 p.m. ET on Saturday.

The forecast has not looked pretty during the week. A consistent rainfall was expected Saturday evening into early Sunday morning. Obviously, rain can be one of the most problematic types of Mother Nature with outdoor hockey.

According to weather reports, the chance of rain increases late Saturday night, early Sunday morning and doesn't appear as likely and heavily for the 8 p.m. puck drop.

For the latest updates on the forecast, visit NBC Philadelphia right here.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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Young Flyers can lean on James van Riemsdyk The Outdoorsman

Young Flyers can lean on James van Riemsdyk The Outdoorsman

For James van Riemsdyk, the novelty has completely worn off.

Well, almost.

Saturday’s Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field will be his sixth outdoor game in the past nine years. Only the core members of the Chicago Blackhawks have played in as many. 

“Seriously, it’s been every year it feels like, but they’re always fun to play in,” van Riemsdyk said. “It definitely takes away from the usual routine, so it’s something you definitely look forward to.”

Here’s van Riemsdyk’s resume of playing in the elements — a list that includes three Winter Classics while also playing in front of a record 105,491 people at “The Big House” at the University of Michigan with a 2-2-1 record in those five games.

• 2010 Winter Classic (Flyers) at Fenway Park

• 2012 Winter Classic (Flyers) at Citizens Bank Park

• 2014 Winter Classic (Maple Leafs) at Michigan Stadium 

• 2017 Centennial Classic (Maple Leafs) at BMO Field

• 2018 Stadium Series (Maple Leafs) at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial

As you might expect, there are a couple of games that stood out.

“For me, the two coolest ones were at the The Big House in Ann Arbor,” said van Riemsdyk. “I think for me I spent a couple of years there with the U.S. program and to go back there to play a game in that stadium, I think we set an attendance record when we had it. We had a nice setting of snow and stuff like that. That was really cool.”

“Last year playing at the Naval Academy against the Caps is pretty cool. What the place means to the United States was special to have a hockey game.”

One variable of an outdoor game players are forced to experiment with is deciding how to adjust to the temperature and the conditions. The warmest game van Riemsdyk experienced was 40 degrees in Philadelphia, while he dealt with a near zero wind chill for the game at Michigan.

The game at Annapolis, Maryland, between the Leafs and Capitals, the two teams were rattled with 50 mph winds that forced both teams to cancel practice the day before. There’s a balance between adding layers, but not too many that constrict movement and puck handling.

“I’ve kinda gone thicker with some of the underwear stuff, but you’re just hoping it’s not too windy,” van Riemsdyk said. “That makes it tough to play. That can affect the game more than the temperature.”

A handful of van Riemsdyk’s teammates will be experiencing an NHL outdoor game for the first time. Growing up in Middletown, New Jersey, JVR didn’t have the luxury of grabbing his gear and hopping on a nearby frozen pond where many Canadians spent days and weeks honing their craft. 

“I’m sure them being Canadian, they got a chance to play a lot of outdoor hockey growing up,” van Riemsdyk said. “Occasionally, not every winter, we looked forward to having the chance to do that growing up on some of the ponds and stuff.”

“Knowing that we’ve got two points on the line and it’s an important part of the season right now, just treat it like you’re preparing for any other game, and just enjoy because you don’t know how many of these outdoor games.” 

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