VOORHEES, N.J. – It’s going to be the first regular-season game in more than 10 months and the Flyers couldn’t be happier to get things going.
Count Sean Couturier in that group.
The Flyers can’t wait to get started in Wednesday night’s season opener at the Wells Fargo Center against cross-state rival Pittsburgh.
“I think everyday (in camp) we got a little better, there’s a little more excitement,’’ Couturier said during a Tuesday media Zoom call. “The guys were pretty excited today and we’re looking forward to getting off to a good start.’’
This 56-game schedule will be like no other.
The Flyers will be playing each of the seven other East Division teams eight times. In this compressed slate, familiarity should breed a lot of contempt.
“I think all year it’s going to be pretty exciting,’’ Couturier said. “With all the division rivalries we have lined up. I think tomorrow is going to be a big test to start the year.’’
Gone from the old Metro Division are Carolina and Columbus, replaced by last year’s No. 1 team Boston, plus Buffalo.
Couturier will be centering a top line with Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom.
Coach Alain Vigneault said that line played “OK’’ in Sunday night’s intrasquad scrimmage at the Wells Fargo Center but overall the results so far look promising.
“We just have to clean up our game,’’ Couturier said. “Make the right decisions, make a play when it’s there. If not, just move the puck forward and control it. That’s what made our line successful last season when we made the right decisions.
“We controlled the play down low and established the forecheck. We just have to get back to some good habits in our game and we’ll be fine.’’
A tough, seven-game playoff series with the Islanders last season showed the Flyers they’re headed in the right direction.
“We can play with anyone,’’ Couturier maintained. “We have pretty much the same group as last year. But it’s a new year and we have to prove ourselves again.
“But we feel we can pretty much match up against anyone. We lost in the second round Game 7 to a pretty good Islanders team and we don’t feel we played some good playoff hockey throughout that series. We were OK and still managed to get to Game 7. We just have to bring our ‘A’ game every night.’’
Even though the Flyers and the rest of the NHL were unable to squeeze in any preseason games, Claude Giroux believes his team is close to full speed.
“I do believe we’re ready for the season to start,’’ Giroux said. “Obviously not having the chance to play any preseason games. . .but I think every team is in the same boat.
“I do feel that physically and mentally, we’re ready to get the season going.’’
Giroux turned 33 on Tuesday and is looking for a bit of a rebound season after slipping to fourth in team scoring last year.
As captain of the team, he can get a good read on the level of confidence.
“We all know we need to be ready when the season starts,’’ he reiterated. “I think we’ve had some good practices. But this is pretty quick (just a 10-day training camp).
“Hopefully guys were listening in meetings. In practice, everyone looked sharp. So it’s very exciting.’’
Intradivision play requires focus for every game. Lose a couple and suddenly you’re on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.
“Every game is a four-point game,’’ Giroux pointed out. “If you go down early, it’s going to be hard to get back up in the standings. That start of the year is very important.’’
Can the Flyers go all the way?
“I think it’s our depth,’’ Giroux said. “A lot of players took a step forward. Nolan (Patrick) and Oskar (Lindblom) were able to come back with us. They’re really good players.
“We’re just excited as a team. We think last year we were a good team. That Game 7, we would love to get it back but we know what we’re capable of.’’