December 22 Philadelphia Inquirer;
“Less than 24 hours after their worst performance of the season, the Flyers were like giddy school kids ready to go on vacation.
They were officially on their holiday break.
The Flyers were looking past Monday’s 5-0 spanking by lowly Florida and ahead to four days off. They don’t practice again until Sunday, and they have seven days between the Florida loss and their next game – Tuesday in Vancouver.
“Just going to relax and spend time with the kids a little bit,” center Danny Briere said after an intense one-hour practice, followed by a skills competition at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night. “It’s not too often you have six or seven days off at Christmastime, so we’re going to try to take advantage of it.”
Monday’s loss ended the Flyers‘ five-game winning streak – and was just their second regulation defeat in their last 15 games (10-2-3).
“The last couple weeks have been tough on us; we’ve played a lot of big games, a lot of emotional games,” said Briere, who is tied with Claude Giroux for the team lead with 16 goals. “I think we ran out of juice [Monday]. The tank was empty and it showed in the game, so it’s time to refocus and get our energy back.”
“There’s always going to be a blip in the road,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Nobody’s happy about it, but they happen and you deal with it and move on. If you evaluate everything as a whole, there have been a lot of positive things.”
The Flyers (22-8-5) are happy with their overall body of work – an NHL-best 49 points during an impressive 2½-month stretch.
“If you look from the beginning of the season to this point, it couldn’t be much better than where we’re at,” Briere said. “It’s a good start, but we all know the most important part is in front of us.”
“We’ve put ourselves in a pretty good position, but we don’t play for first place now – we play for first place at the end of the year,” winger James van Riemsdyk said.
As for the skills competition, which is similar to what will take place at the all-star festivities in Raleigh, N.C, in late January, van Riemsdyk registered the hardest shot (101.5 m.p.h.) and finished second to Andreas Nodl (14.096 seconds) with a 14.118-second clocking in a lap around the ice.
“I never really take slap shots, so I didn’t know what to expect,” van Riemsdyk said. “I never really had my shot read by a radar gun, and I definitely surprised myself a little bit.””
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