VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers, who last played a game on Saturday afternoon, practiced Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. before catching a flight to Calgary, Alberta.
The Flyers are out in Canada for a three-game road trip, which starts Wednesday night against the Flames (9:30 ET on TCN and CSNPhilly.com).
With a three-day break between games, Dave Hakstol’s club decided to stay back and prep in the confines of its own practice facility instead of making an earlier trip.
Did the Flyers consider traveling a day earlier to get settled and practice locally Tuesday?
"No, we didn’t,” Hakstol said at Flyers Skate Zone. “Not on this [trip].
"Why would we?"
Calgary is two hours behind Eastern Standard Time, so the Flyers gain a few hours once they arrive.
“We discussed our travel early in the year and thought this was our best routine,” Hakstol said.
Regardless of the travel logistics, the Flyers head north with a quality 2-1 OT win over the defending Western Conference champion Sharks last time out. They’re still seeking offense after scoring six goals in their 2-2-1 five-game homestand. And since returning on Jan. 21 from their NHL mandated bye week, the Flyers have scored an NHL-worst 15 goals in 10 games but have allowed only 20, tied for the second lowest in the league.
Can the Flyers eventually produce offensively behind such a defensive grind?
“Good defense generates good offense,” Hakstol said. “They go hand in hand. Not the other way around. Good defensive play and fast play without the puck helps you generate offense.
“Are there areas that we can be better? Yes. It’s a little bit like a pendulum. One week, it seems like all the talk is about the defensive play. The next week, it’s about the offensive play. It’s not like that here. We’re trying to play good, sound hockey without the puck.”
Entering Tuesday, the Flyers were sixth in the NHL in 5-on-5 shot attempts since Jan. 21, but the goals haven’t followed.
“Offensively, not a lot has come easily,” Hakstol said. “We can generate more. But if you really want to break it down and look at it, we’re generating some pretty good opportunities. So we have to continue to stay with it, make sure we’re good without the puck and continue to work hard to generate offense.”
The Flyers are tied with the Maple Leafs in the points column at 61. Toronto, which holds the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot because of fewer games played, hits the ice tonight against the Islanders, who trail the Flyers by just one point.
“We are in the middle of and have been in the middle of a pretty tight battle here for quite some time, and that’s not going to change anytime soon assuming we keep doing our job,” Hakstol said. “Just keep practicing hard, keep playing well and keep a short-term focus.”
With 26 games remaining and seeing what was needed to sneak into the playoffs last season, the Flyers know the magnitude of the situation.
“Feels like every game is a must-win right now,” Michael Raffl said (more on him here). “There’s no room for error, so we’ve got to be focused and we will be.”
Neuvirth in net
Michal Neuvirth is set to make his fifth start in the last six games.
The 28-year-old is on his best run of the season and has been a key cog to the defensive shift (see story).
“I’m feeling pretty good, feel good about my game,” Neuvirth said Tuesday. “I feel like I’m practicing well, I feel like the team is playing better. It’s such a big road trip for us. Big challenge coming up [Wednesday], and I’m sure that if we stick to our system and play for each other, we’re going to be fine.”
F: Brayden Schenn-Claude Giroux-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Michael Raffl-Nick Cousins-Matt Read
Chris VandeVelde-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Dale Weise
D: Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Mark Streit-Shayne Gostisbehere
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas
G: Michal Neuvirth