ST. PAUL, Minn. - The three-day holiday break does not seem to come at a good time for the surging Flyers.
"You want to skip Christmas?" coach Craig Berube deadpanned when asked about the momentum of the Flyers, winners of the first three games of an eight-game road trip. "I don't mind."
After the laughter stopped, Berube said: "That's just what you have to deal with. The guys can use a little break here, a couple of days, and then get refocused and get back at it in Nashville.'
The Flyers (14-14-6) resume their longest trip of the season Saturday night in Nashville, where they will face their former coach, Peter Laviolette, for the first time since he took the Predators job this season. Nashville is 22-9-2 and in second place in the Central Division.
"Obviously, he's been pretty successful over there, and he's a great coach," said captain Claude Giroux, whom Laviolette called "the best player in the world" after he led a series-clinching playoff win over Pittsburgh. "I think it's going to be a good game."
On this trip, the Flyers have beaten Toronto, 7-4; Winnipeg, 4-3, in overtime; and Minnesota, 5-2. They averaged 5.3 goals per game.
"It feels awesome," winger Wayne Simmonds said after scoring the go-ahead goal in Tuesday's win over the Wild. "We have an eight-game road trip and a couple of days off for Christmas, but we just have to make sure we keep it up. It's always nice to get the first six points on the road trip and go home and enjoy our families, but we have to make sure we're ready when we come back."
"They're playing well as a team; we've got four lines rolling," Berube said after the Flyers improved to 6-1-3 in their last 10 games. "They're all contributing. The six [defensemen] are all playing well. The goaltenders are playing well. . . . To me, we've been trending in the right direction for a good three weeks now."
Vinny Lecavalier, benched for seven games recently, has been in the middle of the Flyers' streak since returning to the lineup four games ago; he has three goals in the last two games.
"He's strong in the puck, winning battles, and he's around the net," Giroux said. "He's making a lot of good decisions out there and kind of getting momentum for us."
Lecavalier "has been huge for us," Simmonds said. "He has such a positive attitude, and he's been playing great as of late, and he just brings a little extra to our team."
Some of the Flyers will head to different parts of North America during the holiday break, and those who live in the Philadelphia area will spend Christmas at defenseman Nick Schultz's house with his family.
Breakaways. Jake Voracek leads the NHL with 46 points, four more than Dallas' Tyler Seguin. Giroux is tied for third in the league with 41 points. In his last eight games, Voracek has 13 points and is plus-12. . . . Defenseman Luke Schenn is plus-3 in two of the last three games. . . . Goalie Ray Emery has won three straight and probably will start in Nashville, where Steve Mason is expected to skate and test his aching back. . . . The Flyers' 4-0-2 road stretch is their longest road point streak in three years. . . . The Flyers were on a three-game winning streak last month when they had their last extended schedule break; when they returned to action, they lost 10 of their next 11.