How much is lack of practice hurting Flyers?

How much is lack of practice hurting Flyers?

February 26, 2013, 3:15 pm
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VOORHEES, N.J. –- One of these days –- perhaps Thursday or maybe both Thursday and Friday -– the Flyers will take the ice at Skate Zone and do something Allen Iverson hated:
 
Practice.
 
Yet, with 21 games in 38 days, there hasn’t been much time for Peter Laviolette’s Flyers to practice.
 
It’s not an excuse, but there is a fine line between winning and losing. Sometimes, the lack of practice because of the schedule comes into play.
 
And with a tired hockey club, Laviolette elected to watch video on Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday’s game against Washington. The Flyers have lost two of three in this five-game homestand.
 
“We’re in the middle of six games in nine nights,” Laviolette said. “Games are coming too quick. The most important thing is rest. Try to handle things on video like we did today. Go over things. Things we can do better through the course of games. Things we did well. That is where we’re at.”
 
Scott Hartnell agrees more practice would help the Flyers who have not won more than two games in succession all season. They have had just one streak of points –- seven points over four games -- earlier this month.
 
“We’ll have practice [Thursday] and a chance to work on power play and penalty kill,” Hartnell predicted. “Get some flow going and stuff like that. The first month of the half of the season there was zero practice. Watching games almost every night. This time off is good for our best players. They’re playing a lot of minutes. [Claude Giroux] is playing 25-26 minutes a night. The way he plays and battles, guys like him and Kimmo [Timonen] deserve these days off.”
 
When March rolls around, the schedule opens up for the Flyers to get practice and days off.
 
“Everybody is in the same position” Danny Briere said. “You can’t use that as an excuse. Looking forward, we will have a chance to get more rest and get more practice time. At some point, it’s going to reverse and be to our advantage more.
 
“It’s definitely not the reason why we’ve been inconsistent. We’ve been up and down. That is something we are trying to fix. When you lose games like last night, everybody is disappointed and frustrated at the way you are going.
 
“If you sit here and feel sorry for yourself it’s not going to help you. You have to move forward and find ways to get motivated again and find ways to come back here and look at what you did wrong and put a positive spin on it. Get back to work and turn things around.
 
“Today was more about trying to correct mistakes ... Lavy’s [Laviolette's] message was basically there’s not a lot of difference between wins and losses. We have to cut down as much as possible on little mistakes. We looked at the tape of things we can do a little better.”
 
Tuesday’s video emphasis was all about overcoming mistakes.
 
“The biggest message is between winning and losing, it might be one mistake where they put the puck in our net,” Hartnell said of the session.
 
“It could be a clear on a penalty kill or missing a check, or not making a hit. The difference between winning and losing is so small. It starts by getting focused in the morning and getting focused today for tomorrow night and coming here ready to work.”
 
Playing 60 minutes without a letup has been an issue with this team for a generation. It was a problem at the end under Ken Hitchcock. And John Stevens. And it's a problem now, under Laviolette.
 
It’s not unusual.
 
“I said it last night -- it’s 60 minutes,” Hartnell said. “That has got to be our focus. Tomorrow morning at practice and when we drop the puck, we have to be able to play 60 minutes.
 
“To play 50 minutes in this league, you are not going to win most games. If you take a few minutes off, it seems like it bites you in the a--.”
 
Laviolette was asked whether his message might be falling on deaf ears right now.
 
“I hope not,” he replied. “I hope not.”