For more than a week, the Flyers have been ruminating about that five-game losing streak leading into the week-long schedule break which included the NHL All-Star Game.
Practice resumed on Sunday in Sunrise, Fla. where the Flyers will be playing the Florida Panthers on Tuesday and there was some good news to lift their spirits.
Owen Tippett, who’s been sidelined due to a lower-body injury since a home game against the Colorado Avalanche on Jan. 20, has been cleared to play and should be back in action for the upcoming game.
There was thought that Tippett might try to play in a home game against the Boston Bruins just before the break on Jan. 28 but the Flyers decided to hold him back and be prudent with their big forward, who recently signed an eight-year, $49.6-million contract.
“I think that (extra) week helped to fast-track things,” Tippett said. “I feel good. I think it’s just getting a feel for the puck.”
Tippett began his career with the Panthers, then was traded to the Flyers in a deal which sent long-time captain Claude Giroux to the Sunshine State.
“It’s awesome,” Tippett said of an annual visit back. “Lot of good memories here.”
Just prior to the injury, the Peterborough, Ontario, Canada native had been on one of his most torrid scoring stretches as a Flyer, posting six goals in six games.
As the Flyers hit the homestretch, defenses might be tightening things up against him and some of the Flyers’ top scorers.
“You don’t want to skip a beat, these are important games,” said Tippett, whose team holds down the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. “Every point is important coming down the stretch.”
Said coach John Tortorella: “Well, ‘Tip’ makes us look faster. He’s one of the fastest players in the league. (We’re) a team which has struggled here of late. He generates (offense) himself, he doesn’t need any help. That’s a very important guy to get back into our lineup here.”
>Evaluating Laughton’s play
Offense-wise, it’s been a tough year for alternate captain Scott Laughton. He’s posted only five goals through the first 50 games.
Tortorella is just looking for more consistent play from one of his veteran leaders.
“When he’s on, he’s on,” Tortorella said. “I think with the last third (of the season) here, I think he knows how important the games are. I just hope he steps up and gets on the right side of consistency because he’s a very important guy for us.
“He’s the glue, especially with some of the youth we have around here. They rely on him and ask him questions. Just the way he plays, it’s important to what we’re trying to build here in Philly. The intangibles – when you’re trying to build a (locker) room – he has those.”
>Leaving the trade door open
Even though the Flyers have played above preseason expectations, that doesn’t mean general manager Daniel Briere won’t entertain trade offers, provided the right one comes along.
The trade deadline is coming up on March 8.
“We’re kind of in a situation that a lot of people didn’t think we would be,” Tortorella said. “We’re starting our last third of the season and we’re looking to try to do the things we want to do to get where we want to be.
“But we’re not backing off at all with what we’re trying to do with the organization in the big picture as far as rebuilding. I think people have watched us play, have watched a number of our players play and I think there will be some questions for Danny as far as what about this guy, that guy? Those are questions we have to take, we have to listen to. I don’t want to speak for Danny but if there’s a situation where a really good asset is coming back, it’s going to happen. We cannot lose sight of what we’re doing here.”
There’s a little bit of urgency to get this losing streak over with.
“We’re trying to win every game,” the coach said. “We’ve lost the last five. I think it’s very important that we get our energy back, our swagger back, to start these 30-plus games.”