2024 NHL Stadium Series: Flyers Make Preparations at Practice, Get Family Time

2024 NHL Stadium Series: Flyers Make Preparations at Practice, Get Family Time Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Flyers were originally slated to take the ice at 2 p.m. at MetLife Stadium on Friday for practice. Sun glare pushed that back to 3 p.m., leaving them with a brief period for both practice and the family skate that followed.

Preparations for a game like Saturday’s Stadium Series are less about working on the same things as every other practice and more about experiencing the outdoor rink for the first time, getting to know the sightlines.

Conditions are expected to be ideal for Saturday’s game, with high temperatures in the low 30s.

“They were really good out there, I thought,” Morgan Frost said. “We obviously weren’t playing in a game style, but it was sunny out there, so I thought it might be pretty soft. I kind of want it to be cold, so I hope it’s a lot colder tomorrow night.”

“I thought the ice conditions were great,” head coach John Tortorella said. “I think they feel it’s going to be better tomorrow. You get a few practices on this, I think that will help it. It’s a pretty cool setting out there.”

Couturier ‘Good to Go,’ York ‘Not Sure’ for Saturday

One of the key developments from the Flyers 4-3 overtime loss in Toronto on Thursday was the pending status of two players. The Flyers were already without Tyson Foerster and Rasmus Ristolainen for both games this week. Cam York exited Thursday’s game in the third period, and Sean Couturier did not play the final six minutes of regulation or overtime.

Both Couturier and York participated in Friday’s practice, but their status for Saturday is different.

“I’m fine,” Couturier said. “It was just a stinger, just a bruise. Just got me right at the wrong area where I didn’t have any padding. It’s all good.”

“Not sure yet,” York said. “I feel good, skated not for long, but could feel it out. I don’t know, we’ll see.”

That’s certainly good news for Couturier, who was just named captain of the team on Wednesday. As for York, his participation is encouraging that, at the very least, he would not miss extended time should he not play in Saturday’s game.

Soaking in the Experience

The Stadium Series is one of the main events of the NHL schedule. It is a spectacle, putting the focus on the atmosphere as much as the game itself.

For the players who participate, it’s about soaking in the experience and making a memory in their careers. Several Flyers reflected on this after Friday’s practice.

“It’s one of those games in a long season that you can take a breath and really just enjoy it,” Joel Farabee said. “Obviously you don’t get to play too many outdoor games, so I’m pretty pumped. The Lake Tahoe one was really cool, but there was no fans, so I’m pretty excited. I think it will be a great crowd and be a lot of fun.”

“When I was growing up, that’s all we did all winter,” Frost said. “Kind of cool to bring back a few memories. It’s obviously a little different. You’re not in someone’s backyard, you’re playing in front of thousands of people.”

Tortorella also made sure that the focus was on the players enjoying the experience with their families. 

“These events are fantastic, but you never know where it goes. My whole focus is, first of all, making sure the families got out on the ice today,” Tortorella said. “Today, the more important part is to get the families out there with them. The game, you just never know where these games go. There’s a lot of things going around the players. It’s my job to get the team ready to play after they’re done with their families.”

Tortorella: ‘It’s Such An Important Game’

As much as Friday provides a family atmosphere, Tortorella certainly hasn’t lost sight of the implications of this game. 

The Flyers enter with points in five straight games, having their four-game winning streak snapped on Thursday in Toronto. Gaining that point, coupled with a regulation loss for the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night against the Los Angeles Kings, allowed the Flyers to extend the margin between the two teams to seven points in the standings.

The Devils are fourth in the Metropolitan Division and directly trailing the Flyers for the final guaranteed Metropolitan Division playoff spot.

“It’s such an important game,” Tortorella said. “I haven’t followed where the guys were in the standings in the other games. This one is right in front of us here. 20-plus games left for each team. You can see where the East is. When that puck is dropped, I know we’ll be ready to play because I think they’re zeroed in on how important it is.”

From Tortorella’s perspective, the buildup to the event is the hardest part. As Flyers coach, Tortorella remains focused on the meaning of the game itself, not the spectacle.

“I just want to play the game,” Tortorella said. “I want to get to it, I want to see where we’re at, I want to do the best we can to try and get these points.”

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