Hockey teams which win the first half of back-to-back games can’t wait to get out there and play the second, the theory being that fabled “momentum’’ is squarely on their side.
So it would have been understandable if the Flyers – winners of Game 2 (in overtime) on Wednesday — had expressed frustration after the aforementioned scenario fell through on Thursday.
But not a Flyer player voiced disappointment because to a man they support the nationwide protest of the Jacob Blake shooting.
So when Game 3 was pushed back from Thursday night to Saturday night at 7 (Game 4 was originally scheduled for 12 p.m. on Saturday), in essence the Flyers had an extra 31 hours to look at the four walls in their hotel rooms.
The Flyers say the additional down time shouldn’t be a negative factor.
“Each game presents a unique and different challenge,’’ said James van Riemsdyk during a Friday morning Zoom call from Toronto. “Obviously we’re all professionals here. When we arrive at the rink, we’re ready to go, we’re ready to put forth all effort, attention and energy into playing the game and having a good result.
“Once we get to the rink and once we get there to play, we’ll be ready to roll.’’
As far as back-to-backs are concerned, the new schedule means the Flyers now will play on consecutive nights Saturday and Sunday.
Regarding the decision to not play on Thursday, having four teams in each of two bubble environments (Toronto, Edmonton) probably enhanced communication among players around the league as opposed to what would be four normal sites around the continent.
“Certainly for that aspect of it, us being in these bubbles and the quarters that we’re in, we’re seeing a lot more of the other teams – not only the team you’re playing but the other teams from the other series (in the Flyers’ case, Tampa Bay and Boston) as well,’’ JVR said.
“So it’s way easier to have some more of these dialogues within bigger groups. So I would say yesterday (Thursday) morning into the early afternoon when these conversations were being had, there were probably 40, 50 guys here, talking together and calling some guys from the Edmonton bubble and from the Hockey Diversity Alliance, too, just talking through these sorts of things. . .what the NBA had done and what was the best course of action.’’
>New schedule announced
Here is the Flyers-Islanders revised schedule:
>Game 3 – Saturday, 7 p.m.
>Game 4 – Sunday, 8 p.m.
>Game 5 – Tuesday, 7 p.m.
>Game 6 – Thursday, TBD.
>Game 7 – Saturday, TBD.
>Uncertainty for van Riemsdyk
This postseason hasn’t been an easy one for van Riemsdyk. He’s been a healthy scratch for a number of games and can’t seem to find a steady role in the lineup.
He came into action for Game 2 and, according to coach Alain Vigneault, gave a good account of himself.
“At this time of the year it’s all about the team’s success,’’ JVR said. “We’re trying to win games, we have a big team goal of winning a championship.
“You certainly want to play every game and it definitely sucks when you don’t get a chance to go out there and try and contribute. That being said, it’s all about the team right now. You want to be a good teammate, you work hard in practice and you try to make the most of your opportunities when you get back in the lineup. That’s pretty much all I’m focusing on. All the rest is white noise.’’
Vigneault was not made available to the media on Friday, one day after he took some heat for not offering comments on his feelings regarding the Blake matter.
On Thursday, Vigneault said he was too focused on game preparation to pay much attention to the social situation whirling around North America.
The coach has spoken virtually every day so his absence on Friday seemed a bit odd.
Matt Niskanen came to his coach’s defense.
“I can speak to my experience with AV,’’ Niskanen said. “He’s a dedicated pro. His No. 1 goal is to try to bring a championship to the Flyers organization.
“These are not easy times with everything going on. There are a lot of layers to it. For us, as players, we just want to do the right thing. As a group, we decided to take some action yesterday (Thursday) and I think that’s the appropriate thing to do. I think I’ll let AV answer questions about how he approaches life in the bubble with everything else going on.’’
Scott Laughton was a healthy scratch for the first time in the playoffs and chose not to second-guess Vigneault’s decision.
“I’m healthy,’’ he said. “I think at this time of the year, you have to elevate your game. Some of the games, my puck management could have been better for sure. Trying to work on my game and become better for this team.’’
Laughton had been playing on a second line with Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny but Joel Farabee took over that spot recently.