The Flyers have had four days away from the rink in the last 10 days. Put another way: They have had just two practices in the last six nongame days.
"You have to remember how late we played last year; everything kind of factors into it," Laviolette said. "They played a long time, and there are times when you don't have to put on your equipment and still get a workout."
The players weren't completely off Wednesday. They worked out in the weight room and rode exercise bikes.
"They continue to work on their conditioning," Laviolette said.
Getting time off from the ice, winger James van Riemsdyk said, will help in the final 13 regular-season games.
"We did it a lot last year, too," said van Riemsdyk, aware that the team has been given even more days off this season. "It kept us fresh down the stretch. Obviously, it's a long year. At this time of year, you're playing almost every other day. . . . But to stay away from the rink a little bit keeps you fresher, gives you that extra jump when you get there" for games.
It also gives players - such as van Riemsdyk - time to heal some nagging injuries.
On Thursday, the Flyers will play in Atlanta and try to avenge Saturday's stunning 5-4 overtime loss. The altered top three lines that played in Tuesday's 3-2 win in Florida will remain together in Atlanta, Laviolette said. The lines: Claude Giroux centering Jeff Carter and Danny Briere; Mike Richards centering Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino; and Kris Versteeg centering van Riemsdyk and Dan Carcillo.
Gustafsson ready. Defenseman Eric Gustafsson, recalled from Adirondack on Tuesday because of Chris Pronger's injury, will be in the lineup Thursday, Laviolette said. In his first and only NHL game Feb. 26, Gustafsson, paired with Matt Carle, played 16 minutes, 6 seconds, and did a commendable job in a 4-1 loss in Ottawa.
He is expected to replace Nick Boynton, who was minus-2 in just 5:42 during Tuesday's win.
"It's important for him to get experience, just so when he's called-upon [he's ready]," Laviolette said. "Defensemen are a valuable commodity come playoff time."
Gustafsson, 22, called his debut "a great experience" and said he learned from that game.
"It's way quicker; you have to move the puck as soon as [possible]," he said. "I was really nervous in the first game, and maybe I can play with a little more comfortable style and be more poised out there."
When he played in Europe, the games were a lot different.
"You set up behind your own net and you wait until all five guys come back and you break out five guys against five," he said. "You almost never dump it in. You always try to get clean entries."
In the AHL and NHL, "it's dump and chase and a more physical and straightforward game," he said. "I think I like it better here. It's more intense over here."
Breakaways. Down the stretch, Laviolette plans to increase the minutes of his top players to get them ready for the playoffs. . . . Braydon Coburn had a game-high eight hits in Tuesday's win in Florida. . . . Injured forward Ian Laperriere will be an analyst on CSN's pre- and postgame shows Thursday.
Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BroadStBull