VANCOUVER - Riding an impressive 5-1-1 record in their last seven games, there are a lot of reasons for the Flyers to be smiling.
Even more so yesterday, in one of the most beautiful corners of the world, as the Flyers completed a brisk, midday practice at Rogers Centre that allowed plenty of time for rest before tonight's test against the Canucks.
It also featured a showdown months in the making. That's how long Jake Voracek and Zac Rinaldo have been chirping to each other about who is the faster skater.
Toward the end of yesterday's practice, Voracek and Rinaldo lined up on either side of the red line - with the rest of the team huddled in the middle, watching intently. Heading in opposite directions, the first person to cross the red line would be determined the winner.
It ended up being not that much of a race, much to the delight of coach Craig Berube, who had a little cash riding on Rinaldo. Voracek crashed into the boards rounding the final turn as the Flyers exploded in a roar part laughter and part cheer.
"I thought I could take him and win that race, but in the last turn I kind of slipped and lost an edge and fell into the boards," Voracek said. "I think I'm going to hear about it for the rest of the season, that I lost to Zac Rinaldo."
The last time the Flyers held an in-practice race, Scott Hartnell took on a bragging Arron Asham in the 2009-10 season and Hartnell "won by a car length." Or, at least that's how Hartnell remembers it.
Rinaldo said Voracek fell into the boards to save his pride from losing outright.
"He did it on purpose," Rinaldo said with a smile. "He would have lost."
There was no wagering going on between the two, Voracek said, but there were a few side bets.
"He doesn't bet. He's a girl," Voracek said, without offending the female reporter standing there.
Rinaldo, who makes $750,000, laughed when he heard Voracek - who earns $4.5 million this season - essentially called him cheap.
"If I was making his kind of money, I'd be betting, too," Rinaldo said.