When the Philadelphia Flyers take on the Calgary Flames this Saturday afternoon, it will be their last game before the NHL Olympic break. The Flyers will not play for 19 days. They will return to action against the San Jose Sharks on February 27th. The only Flyers that are participating in the Olympics are Michael Raffl (Austria), Jakub Voracek (Czech Republic), Mark Streit (Switzerland), Kimmo Timonen (Finland), and Andrej Meszaros (Slovakia). The rest of the team will have a few weeks off to rest up for the stretch drive, and hopefully, the playoffs.
It is unknown at this point whether or not this break will prove to help to the team or be a detriment to the team. Players who are in a groove may get out of their routine during the break, while other players who are tired or worn out may be able to use the break to recoup. Either way, there are a few Philadelphia Flyers who are looking forward to the time off.
1.) Vincent Lecavalier: Lecavalier has been out of sync lately. He has suffered from back spasms, shifted from center to wing (both sides), and been moved up and down the lines. At 33 Lecavalier is entering the later stages of his career. He is no longer in his prime and injuries have become a significant concern. Being a veteran, Lecavalier will welcome the time off and should come back healthier and more rested than ever.
2.) Steve Downie: In Downie’s first game with the Flyers this season he got injured. The concussion he received on November 1st kept him out of play for 11 days. However, upon his return he had six points in his first six games and looked to have great chemistry with Sean Couturier and Matt Read. Lately, however, Downie has fallen on hard times and is in Craig Berube’s doghouse. He was a healthy scratch for a few games and is not skating with confidence. The break should provide Downie with some time to catch his breath and regain that confidence.
3.) Scott Hartnell: Scott Hartnell is solely focused on winning the Stanley Cup. He is willing to do whatever it takes. Right now, he is playing through a hurt leg (he blocked a shot in the Bruins game on Saturday and was seen wearing a boot at the Flyers Wive Carnival). When Hartnell is on his game he makes everyone better. At 31, Hartnell is entering the stage of his career in which many power forwards begin to break down. Although he may not seem old, Hartnell’s body takes beating every night and his prime is quickly coming to an end. Although this will not be his final season, Hartnell knows that the clock is ticking and he will use this break to both physically heal and mentally prepare for a stretch drive and playoff run.
The Flyers should come out of their break well rested, if nothing else. Many of the Flyers key players (Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier Braydon Coburn, etc.) will get almost three weeks to prepare themselves for the final months of the season. Although they are all competitive guys who do not like time off, Flyers fans can only hope that the added rest gives the team an edge in April and May.
If the Flyers are going to make the playoffs, and go on any sort of run, they will need contributions from Lecavalier, Downie, and Hartnell. The Olympic break should do wonders for the physical and mental well being of all three.