Scott Hartnell scored 48 seconds into the first period to get the Flyers off to an early start vs. the Jets. (AP)
None of the current Flyers have ever had an 11:30 a.m. start at Wells Fargo Center. It’s been two decades since we’ve seen it in Philly.
Flyers coach Craig Berube and several players said after the loss in Tampa Bay that the biggest challenge would be getting ready to skate so early Black Friday morning against Winnipeg.
It was like a morning skate that counted in the standings.
And the Flyers made the most of it with Scott Hartnell’s fifth goal of the season 48 seconds into the game that served as a wake-up call to the Jets during an eventual 2-1 Flyers’ win (see story).
“I actually woke up before my alarm this morning around 7:15, packed up a few things, had a nice breakfast and headed to the rink,” Hartnell said. “We’re 1-0 in morning games and I don’t think we’ll have another one that’s for sure.”
Not this early. And not this season.
Flyers captain Claude Giroux needed some lubrication to get going.
“When you come into the rink in the morning, it’s kind of weird, but I just had a couple coffees and then I was ready to go,” Giroux said.
Goalie Steve Mason thought it was unusual, as well. Tough getting up and having to play so early?
“Yeah, little bit,” Mason replied. “You know … you’re up. Breakfast and then you’re playing a game, so just make sure that you get a good warm-up and I think our guys did a pretty good job of that.”
The Flyers say the last time they played this early or earlier was March 14, 1992 when they met the Washington Capitals at 11:05 a.m. at the Spectrum, the day before the Flyers Wives Fight for Lives Carnival.
“It’s important always to get off to a good start, especially at home,” Berube said. “On the road too, it’s important, but sometimes at home the team can come out hard and put pressure right away, but we took good chances offensively, we were strong on the puck and got through the neutral zone good.”
It was good in the sense that it broke a two-game road skid and continued the Flyers' home-winning streak to five games. They now head out for a six-game, 12-day road trip.
“We had two bad games for us there on the road,” Hartnell said. “I thought we played the right way [today]. We’re getting pucks deep. Guys are blocking the shots, paying the price. Obviously [Steve] Mason was our best player again tonight, and we got a big win.”
Hartnell's goal came off a pass from Steve Downie during a line change but the puck hit Dustin Byfuglien, killing Downie’s assist.
“I’ve had probably a few easier than that one,” Hartnell said. “I just shot it as hard as I could, and the goalie [Ondrej Pavelec] stood out of the net. I’ll take it.
“It’s nice, your first shift just going right in the slot and there’s a nice little present waiting for you there. I’ll take it. It was a big start for us. We needed to have a big start. We got the crowed into it which is awesome.”