The all-star break is next week. Yet it probably feels as though it has already hit the Flyers, who are in the midst of a four-day layoff before hosting the Islanders on Thursday.
Coach John Stevens shuffled the lines yesterday in the event that both Mike Richards and Geoff Sanderson return to the lineup against the Islanders. Both are in rehabilitation after abdominal surgery.
"They are getting tired of [only] skating," Stevens said. "Those are two guys we'll welcome back. We have not had an excess of bodies in a while. We're going to look at some lines this week at practice and make a decision on that for Thursday."
Sanderson played on a line with Mike York and Jeff Carter, and Richards centered Kyle Calder and Sami Kapanen.
Yesterday's practice was long and up-tempo with extra skating drills to help the Flyers maintain some of the good things they did in the 5-3 loss to the Penguins on Saturday.
"We've been looking forward to this opportunity to work on our game and get some really good workouts in," Stevens said. "I thought the focus today and intensity in practice was terrific."
Loose pucks. Dmitry Afanasenkov was given the day off to return to his home in the Tampa Bay area and gather his belongings for a relocation to South Jersey. . . . Alexei Zhitnik participated in half of the practice, then left the ice with tightness in his groin. Stevens expressed caution. Zhitnik is much like former Flyer Michal Handzus - he plays through extraordinary pain. If Zhitnik leaves the ice, you know something is bothering him.