For a team as banged-up as the Flyers, three days between games can almost feel like a week on the beach at Acapulco.
Of course, the winless-in-seven Flyers didn’t jet off to some distant sands during this break – it was one day off and then back to work on Friday at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J.
The Flyers really needed this respite to reset, circle the wagons and figure out a way to win a hockey game. You know, stuff like fixing a power play that’s four for its last 53, scoring goals (15 games with three goals or less) and getting off to better starts.
“Today and tomorrow were an opportunity for us to have a couple good practices,’’ coach Alain Vigneault after the workout. “(We) worked on our game, felt good about ourselves. It was a hard practice, a lot of attention to detail. We have to get better.’’
You can say that again. Sunday’s encounter with Tampa Bay starts a string of five games in seven nights, with two back-to-backs and three road games.
While the Flyers have dropped below .500 (8-9-4) for the first time this season, Vigneault continues to maintain support for his roster.
“We have a good group and we have an organization that believes in this group,’’ Vigneault said. “You can say all the words you want, you still have to prove it with some actions.’’
Vigneault referred to a power play in the third period at New York where he called a time-out, essentially to get his best players out there with some designed plays. Although the Flyers didn’t score, Vigneault said he still has faith the unit will get things going soon.
“Those are the guys (Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny, etc.) who are going to get us out of this,’’ Vigneault said. “I’ve been around in this business long enough to know things can change real quickly one way or the other. I’m confident it’s going to change the other way.’’
Having said that, Vigneault knows the Flyers can’t use fatigue as an excuse. This is about urgent as things can get in a month of December.
“I’ll give you an honest answer,’’ Vigneault said. “This is an important stretch for us, a real challenging one. But our outlook has to be one game at a time. We have to focus on Tampa Bay (who beat the Flyers last week). . .we can’t be having thoughts that things might be going sideways.’’
Keith Yandle has been around hockey a long time and knows these two- or three-game breaks in the schedule can be valuable.
“It’s huge,’’ he said. “The good thing about this league is if you play a lot of games and get on a good roll, you can kind of feed off of it. I think right now it’s important for us to get back to square one, look at some things we need to get better at.’’
Giroux, who got off to a hot start this season but has cooled in recent games like most of his teammates, expressed positive feelings this slump can be stopped.
“We have to go one game at a time here,’’ he said. “Right now we’re getting our rest, make sure we’re doing the right things. I think when you have a losing streak, it’s good to take a step back. We’re having two good practices here, we’re going to reset and try to work out what we have to do to win.’’
>Farabee listed ‘week-to-week’
It doesn’t look like Joel Farabee will be playing any hockey for awhile.
Vigneault confirmed Farabee suffered an upper-body injury in the first period of Wednesday night’s 4-1 loss at the New York Rangers but would not elaborate on the exact nature of the trouble spot.
He did say it appears Farabee will be considered “week-to-week,’’ meaning at least a couple weeks before No. 86 even returns to practice. Farabee left the ice at Madison Square Garden trying to keep his left arm in place which usually means a shoulder separation or the like.
Thomas Brown, recovering from a hand injury, was supposed to be doing limited work in practice but ended up doing the whole session. “That’s a positive sign,’’ Vigneault said. “Obviously he’s not quite there yet. But hopefully (he returns) in this next stretch here.’’
>Brassard skating but still on hold
Derick Brassard skated for about 15 minutes on Friday but Vigneault indicated it’s going to be some more time before the veteran center gets back into action.
>Frost staying at wing for now
With the return of center Kevin Hayes, it looks like Morgan Frost will be spending more time on the wing now. Frost responded with the Flyers’ only goal in the loss to the Rangers.
“I’m just looking at the make-up of our lines here,’’ Vigneault said. “It (Frost on wing) gives us better balance. I thought Morgan looked all right on the wing.’’