Saturday, January 19, 2013

Flyers are ready for Penguins and the season ahead

January 18, 2013

The start of the NHL season is just hours away.

After a lengthy delay and worries that there might not even be a season, the Flyers finally will play their first of 48 games on Saturday afternoon, and what better way to start than against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins.

The wait to play again has been a long one, and with the wait coming to a close, the whole team is ready to get going against Pittsburgh.

"I think are guys are really excited to get back and play hockey," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said to the media. "It's been awhile."

"I think for everybody it is going to be extra special," forward Max Talbot said. "We haven't been playing for a while so we might as well start against the Penguins, start against the rival team and get it going."

"Obviously there is a lot of talk about the first game being against Pittsburgh," forward and newly appointed captain Claude Giroux said. "But we got to stay focused. Those two points are going be huge for us."

As far as preparation goes. The Flyers appear confident that there will be no problems when they take the ice after a week long training camp.

"I think the guys came into camp looking really good," Laviolette said. "There was a lot of familiarity with what we were doing so there wasn't a lot of questions. There seemed to be a sync and a rythm out there."

"I do think were ready," forward Scott Hartnell said. "I think everyone put in a lot of hours this week. The coaching staff, video guy, especially us players upstairs, on the ice. With today's [Friday's] tempo and today's practice I think we looked pretty good."

"It doesn't really feel like a camp, it just feels like we had a week of practice to get ready," Giroux said."I think we touched on a lot of things this week. The systems and getting our legs behind us. I can't wait to see how the guys are going to react to a game. It's obviously going to be different."

Flyers fans have shown up everyday for the team's practices. Over 15,000 showed up for the open practice at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night. But the Flyers know that it will be quite a different atmosphere at the Wells Fargo Center come Saturday afternoon.

"I know it's going be great," Laviolette said. "You know just from past experiences. Our fans and the rivalry that the Penguins bring to Philadelphia . I think the atmosphere will be phenomenal."

Giroux expects the game to feel like a playoff game.

"I think its going to be around that," Giroux said. "That's what I expect but we'll see. Especially in Philly, it will be pretty intense."

"It's exciting, we've been waiting for too long to start playing again," Talbot said. "I think it's going to be great motivation, it's not like a Tuesday night in Columbus for us. It's a rival game and its a Saturday afternoon. It's gonna be really exciting."

However, the Flyers understand that although this season is shorter, there will be more games played in a shorter time period, and have to stay fresh past this weekend.

"I think there is going to be 48 playoff games this year, plus the regular playoffs," Hartnell said. "But its going to be a battle every night. It's going to be interesting. Us veterans in here are going to have to step up our game, especially the young guys here and just take it easy, take it cool and play like we can."

"Every team is gonna have to go through the same thing," Talbot said. "You look at last year we played 48 games in what? 103 days? So it's only five days difference. Everybody makes it a big deal, but were ready to go were healthy and we can't wait to get going."

A big question going into this season is how goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will perform after an up and down first year in Philadelphia but Giroux is confident in him.

"He looks great," Giroux said. "He looks focused. He's excited about the season like we are. He just needs to do his little thing. He's looking good right now. To be honest I'm not to worried about Bryz. He's a good goalie and I think he is going to have a really good season this year."

But are the Flyers Cup Contenders this season?

"Definitely, without a doubt," Talbot said. "We have learned a lot from last year's playoff experience. Whether it was to beat the Penguins, which was really a great experience for us, or even losing against the Devils. It's experience that you can gain from and definitely learn. I think we are a better team for it. We made a couple additions and I think we believe in ourselves. I believe we have a great group of guys here. A lot of skills, a lot of young guys, older guys, we are big on defense. Were ready to go."

One thing is for sure, when the Flyers take the ice there will be a lot of emotion.

"I think will go out and will play with some fire," Laviolette said.

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