Skate Update: Plans don’t change with Weber out

Skate Update: Plans don’t change with Weber out
November 30, 2013, 2:45 pm
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Shea Weber, who leads Nashville with seven goals, will not play Saturday against the Flyers. (USA Today Images)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Predators defenseman Shea Weber won’t be in the lineup Saturday night when the Preds host the Flyers.

But considering recent history, the Flyers aren’t rushing to celebrate the absence of one of the NHL’s best blueliners.

“Last time anybody wanted to speculate about how [the other team didn’t] have their best player in the lineup was Washington, and we got beat 7-0,” Jakub Voracek said. “So I don’t think we are in the right spot to even consider that they’re going to play any easier [without Weber]. They’re going to be very good anyway. They’re a very good team. They have a lot of talent on D, and a good goalie.”

The Predators will actually be without both Weber and another top defenseman, Kevin Klein. They lost their last game in ugly fashion, falling to the Edmonton Oilers (and getting shut out by ex-Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov), 3-0.

The Flyers, however, know the risk involved in overlooking any team – whether it’s because of a missing key player, a poor record, or anything else.

“We’ve got to be worried about everyone on their team,” Wayne Simmonds said. “They’re a good hockey team. They have a good coach and they play their systems to a T. I think we’ve got to come out with a lot of energy, but keep it simple and not try to do too much ourselves, and we’ll be fine.”

The Flyers did as Simmonds said in Friday’s win over the Winnipeg Jets, and their coach will be looking for exactly that here in Nashville, too.

“The gameplan doesn’t change,” coach Craig Berube said. “We’ve got a tough game even with [Weber] out. They’re a good team.”

The big trip
The Predators game is the first of a six-game stretch the Flyers will play away from the Wells Fargo Center – their longest road trip of the season so far. Eight of their next 11 games will be played on the road.

The Flyers won’t return to Philadelphia until Dec. 12. They know it’s critical to get off on the right foot in Nashville.

“It’s important for sure,” Berube said. “Just coming off a win last night at home, rebounding after Florida, was good. We’ve got to keep it going. It’s getting to the point where you have to put the wins together to stay in the race.”

Mason starts
Technically, Saturday’s game is the second half of a pair of back-to-back tilts. But the Flyers aren’t exactly treating it like one.

Because Friday’s start was so early (11:30 a.m.), the team held an optional morning skate at Bridgestone Arena Saturday morning. And, also likely because of the distance between the two games, Steve Mason gets the start in net for the second day in a row.

The game is Mason’s 19th of the season. He’s compiled an 8-8-2 record, posting a .933 save percentage and 2.10 goals-against average, both strong enough to be among the NHL’s top 10 netminders.

Thankful for Black Friday
Considering the lengthy road trip that lies ahead of them – and the difficulty of the opponents they’ll face – the Flyers are happy they were able to head into this stretch of games coming off Friday’s 2-1 win at home over the Jets.

“It was huge,” Simmonds said. “Obviously, going home we wanted to play a good game – we didn’t think we played well on the road [in Florida]. I thought we could have played better, but we did get the two points. I know you’ve got to build off the positives, but then again, look back at the negatives and see what you’ve got to do better.”

Whose turn is it?
The Flyers and Predators have alternated wins over their last five games, with the Flyers winning most recently on Feb. 2, 2012. That win snapped a five-game losing streak.