If the Flyers looked a step behind in the early going of their 7-4 win Sunday over the Capitals, they had a decent excuse.
They won't make the excuse — and after all, they won behind a season-high goal output — but the Flyers' Sunday morning was unusual to say the least.
As Travis Sanheim was added to the NHL's COVID protocol list, the Flyers unexpectedly had to be awake by 6:15 a.m. ET to receive POC tests, to go along with their regular coronavirus testing protocol. The Flyers were scheduled to play the Capitals at noon ET.
"After all tests returned negative, the league’s, NHLPA’s and clubs’ medical groups determined that it was appropriate to play the game," the NHL released in a statement Sunday following the game.
Head coach Alain Vigneault said the Flyers arrived to Capital One Arena not knowing if they were still going to play the game.
“It is what it is and you’ve got to deal with it," Vigneault said Monday after practice. "We didn’t know going to bed that night that we would have to do that. Everybody had wakeup calls at 6:15 in the morning before that noon o’clock game to come down to get rapid tested and then take our normal COVID test. We had to do that earlier than expected, but it is what it is and we’ve got to deal with it.
“I thought we played hard and deserved to win.”
Despite the early morning and game, Travis Konecny was one of the final two players to get off the ice Monday after practice.
“I think it’s the first time, at least in the NHL, that I’ve ever been up at 6:15 a.m. for a hockey game," Konecny said Monday. "Obviously things are a little bit different this year. We’re not the only team that’s going through some of these tests and protocols and stuff, so there are no excuses, but it’s definitely a new experience."
The Flyers outscored Washington 6-2 over the second and third periods Sunday.
"I think in the first couple of minutes there was some waking up that needed to be done," Konecny said with a smile. "It was an early morning so we got the rust out and then we started playing.”
Sanheim, who practiced Saturday, was unavailable to play Sunday. He did not practice Monday and won't play Tuesday against the Capitals (6 p.m. ET/NBCSP). After Tuesday's game, the Flyers won't play again until Sunday. The team's games on Thursday and Saturday against the Devils have been postponed as New Jersey had 19 players on the league's COVID protocol list Monday.
"It’s unique, you’ve got to roll with the punches a little bit," Brian Elliott said of all the adjustments required this season. "If you get hung up on those little things and let those things bother you, I think that’s the wrong path to go down. Just roll with the punches, laugh it off a little bit, try your best to stay healthy and keep your teammates safe as well."
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