The Flyers weren’t at their best in the postseason in 2019-20, but at least they won the franchise’s first playoff series since 2012 and, according to the players, the experience they gained will be invaluable.
“Anytime you play games that are very important and that every player had to be invested in, it can only help you down the line,” center Kevin Hayes said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.
“I think it’s going be huge for us to have that experience moving forward,” Ivan Provorov, the Flyers’ No. 1 defenseman, said in a recent interview. “And it’s going to be a second year of having the same coaching staff and basically the same team.”
The 56-game season starts Jan. 13, with on-ice, training-camp drills beginning Jan. 4 in Voorhees. The schedule still has not been released, but teams will play eight games against each other in the Flyers’ new-look East Division.
The shortened season, left winger James van Riemsdyk said on Tuesday, will magnify the importance of each game.
“Obviously, the less games there are, the less margin of error there usually is,” he said. “You have to get off to a good start and go from there.”
Four of the teams in the East Division will earn playoff berths.
“When you are playing teams only in your own division, you are jockeying for a position with them for the playoffs,” van Riemsdyk said. “Each game becomes that much more important because there can be bigger swings within the standings.”
Hayes is from the Boston area, so he gets to face his hometown Bruins eight times.
“Playing the same team over and over again, eight times, there’s bound to be some bad blood,” he said. “There’s bound to be some big hits and big plays. There’s a lot of chance for some bad blood to turn over into the next game. Obviously, we’re going to get used to each other, system-wise.”
Wells Fargo Center and fans
The Flyers aren’t expected to have fans allowed into the Wells Fargo Center when the coronavirus-delayed season starts. City and state officials determine whether fans may attend games and, as of now, spectators are not permitted.
“We are hopeful as the season progresses that we are able to safely welcome some number of fans back into the arena,” said Valerie Camillo, president of business operations for the Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center. “While we are eager to welcome fans back, the health and safety of the community comes first.”
Camillo said she was “optimistic” some fans will be in the stands at some point. “And when that time comes, Philadelphia will remind our opponents why it’s so tough to play here.”
The Flyers had more home wins than any NHL team last season. They were 25-6-4 at the Wells Fargo Center.
Hayes on the Flyers’ play last season, when they had the league’s sixth-most points: “We put our name on the map.” … Van Riemsdyk said the retired Matt Niskanen was a “perfect fit” in his only season with the Flyers, “but there’s opportunities for other guys to take on a bigger role.” ... The NHL originally said July 15 was the last possible date for the Stanley Cup Final but has revised it to July 9, “subject to adjustment.” The coronavirus could play a factor. … July 17 is when protection lists have to be submitted to the NHL for the July 21 Seattle expansion draft.