There are two ways to look at playing in Tampa for the Flyers - one good and one bad.
The good is Tampa Bay is a team that has lost eight of its last 10 games, including the last three.
The bad is, the Flyers - who just snapped a six-game skid with a home win against Toronto on Thursday night - must try to get back-to-back wins against a team that is 12-1-0 against them, dating to the 2004 Eastern Conference finals. They have won only once in the last six games in Tampa.
"It seems like a lot of teams have success there, but we haven't," Mike Knuble said yesterday. "Since I've been here, it's been a difficult place to play."
That, however, does not matter as far as the Flyers are concerned. Winning and losing is about the way they play and the way they feel about themselves.
"As a player it's about how you feel leaving the rink, sliding out of there with your chin up and not thinking about everything on the ride home, shaking your head about everything that's happening," Knuble said.
"That winning feeling, hopefully, can be contagious because around here we've seen that losing can be contagious."
For coach John Stevens, getting another win will be about repeating their Thursday night effort, when the Flyers focused on their defensive game, on blocking shots and taking fewer penalties.
"We'll try and build on what happened [Thursday] night," Stevens said, "and put back-to-back wins on for the first time in a while." Since Nov. 10-12, to be exact.
"We talked, coming out of the [Christmas] break, about how we had to our focus on our defense and to me, that's clear-cut for us," Stevens said. "We blocked a lot of shots [Thursday]. When we play with a sense of urgency without the puck, we're a way better team. We create more, we have the puck more, we're better offensively.
"That just needs to be the foundation of how we play and get back to our identity and how we play every night. When we really focus on our play in our end without the puck, we're a better team everywhere else."
Daniel Briere missed practice yesterday and appears to be one of several players nursing some bumps and bruises, including Randy Jones, Lasse Kukkonen and Kimmo Timonen among others.
"We've got a couple of guys that are banged up, but it looks like everyone will be fine for [today]," John Stevens said. "Randy Jones [right knee] is questionable."
Briere is a "little tired, we gave him a little rest," Stevens said, adding that Mike Richards came off early from yesterday's practice.
"He's a little tired," Stevens said. "He's playing big minutes and we just wanted to get him on the ice and keep his execution where it needs to be and get him off."
"Big minutes" is an understatement. Richards plays in every big situation and is averaging 21:46 minutes per game. He played 22:51 against Toronto and 25:36 against Buffalo last Saturday.
"I think I'm used to that now," Richards said. "It's more about taking care of yourself on off-days; eating well, going to sleep, getting your rest when you get the opportunity to." *