Which players would be on Flyers' wish list?
The Flyers entered their Christmas break with a 17-16-4 record. (USA Today Images)
Chances are, Jakub Voracek is on the couch at his apartment this Christmas Day, taking full advantage of a rare day off to stay in and watch movies with his girlfriend.
And, like the rest of us, he’s digging in to a big holiday meal.
“But not that much,” Voracek said. “Because I put on a lot of weight when I don’t take care of myself.”
The Flyers have the day off to celebrate as they see fit -- they’re actually in the midst of a rare three-day break for Christmas. Some players, like Voracek, stayed local. Others, like Claude Giroux, returned home to spend the holiday with family.
All of them, though, were sent on their way only after talking to their coach.
“We’ve got a big road trip coming up here after this,” Craig Berube said. “Getting your mind ready, making sure your body’s ready to go. They get a few days off, but it’s good to be active and stay going. We’re going to get one practice in before the game. Just making sure your mind’s ready, and staying active and keeping everything going.”
While the holiday season is largely slow for most everyone, NHL players are an obvious exception. The Flyers’ schedule ramps up shortly after their break with a six-game road trip that kicks off Saturday against the Oilers (and former Flyer Ilya Bryzgalov). They're free to do as they wish through Dec. 26, but will hold a quick practice Friday before flying to Edmonton.
After Monday night’s 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild, the Flyers rose back above .500 (17-16-4) and returned to third place in the Metropolitan Division -- playoff contention. That's undoubtedly going to provide some motivation as they head into their post-Christmas road.
“The one coming up, it’s pretty big for us,” Giroux said. “It’s a way to kind of start the year in a good rhythm. There are going to be some big games for us. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready to go every game.”
The Flyers had 11 games in December before Christmas, and will close out 2013 with three quick games in Western Canada -- including back-to-back games on Dec. 30 and 31 in Vancouver and Calgary. Because of the upcoming Olympic break, it’s been a compressed few months for the entire league. That makes this short Christmas break that much more important for the Flyers, especially because of the importance of the upcoming stretch away from the Wells Fargo Center.
“The schedule has been a little tough here in December,” Voracek said. “It’s always good to get a break, but I think three days is about enough. We’re going to be excited to get back going on the 27th, and get back in game shape on the 28th.”
The Oilers game kicks off another packed stretch of games, leading up until the Olympic break in February. This week's road trip ties the longest of the season, from back in November. But the Flyers like the timing of this one -- they'll head into it fresh, thanks to the few days off they got to spend with their families.
“It’s always nice to be home,” Vinny Lecavalier said. “... But it’s fun to go back and play in Canada, as well -- get a little mix of two. I think that first road trip is going to be really important for us.”