Between now and the Olympic break, which begins Feb. 9, the Flyers will play 11 games in 22 days. (USA Today Images)
VOORHEES, N.J. -- When he was a player, Flyers coach Craig Berube didn’t particularly like days off. He preferred to hit the ice and work on improving his game, even during periods of frequent games or rough travel.
But as a coach, Berube’s philosophy is a bit different. Days off are key, especially this season when so many games are compacted into a short period of time because of next month’s Olympic break.
As such, for the second time this week, the Flyers had only an optional skate Friday. Berube wasn’t leading drills. No one was forced to skate laps or suicides. The pace, predictably, was slow and deliberate – a little skating, a little shooting, and less than 30 minutes on the ice.
“Rest, I think that rest is important,” Berube said. “There’s a few times when we’re going to have to go out for afternoon games and stuff but it was optional [Friday], we had a bunch of guys go out anyhow, go out and loosen up and do a little shooting. It’s a lot different from practice.”
Only 10 skaters and goalie Steve Mason elected to skate Friday. The vast majority of those who did were those who played around only 10 minutes against the Nashville Predators, or were scratched from the game.
In other words: The players who skated, primarily, were those who don’t play a ton of minutes regularly. They weren’t the ones who really need the rest.
“I think it’s really important, especially this time of the season,” Mark Streit said. “We’ve been pretty busy, all the traveling and a lot of time on the road. It seems we play every second day, and I think it’s important to be rested for the games.”
Between now and the Olympic break (which officially begins for the Flyers Feb. 9), the Flyers will play 11 games in 22 days – basically, every other night. By contrast, they played 11 games in the entire month of October.
“It’s definitely very important,” Vinny Lecavalier said. “The month of October, I don’t want to say it was easy, but there wasn’t as many games. But since we left for the road at the end of November, pretty much we’ve been playing every second day. It’s nice to get some optionals and choose if you want to go on and work on some things. The rest is definitely very important right now.”
And though the Flyers’ upcoming schedule is challenging, it’s nothing new. Thanks to the 2013 NHL lockout, the team is actually used to a compressed schedule and playing many games in a tight space of time. As Luke Schenn said, “there’s a bit of a carryover” from 2013’s 48-game season.
“It’s a tough schedule, but everyone’s going through it,” Schenn said. “It’s not just us. It’s a pretty tough schedule, but I think the good thing is, you don’t really think too much about it because of the schedule, the way it was last year.”