Flyers have new look at practice

Posted: March 23, 2013

Flyers winger Jake Voracek looked outside the locker room and pointed toward the league standings that hung on the opposite wall.

The playoffs are still in reach, said Voracek, who noted that the Flyers were just five points out of the Eastern Conference's eighth and final postseason spot Thursday.

That's a rather positive outlook for a Flyers team that has dropped five of its last seven games. Three of the losses came to division opponents.

In the midst of a five-day break before they face the Penguins Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Flyers displayed a new look at Thursday's two-hour practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees.

Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds skated with Simon Gagne. Schenn, a center, and Simmonds, a right winger, are usually flanked by right winger Danny Briere.

Briere lined up with Sean Couturier and Harry Zolnierczyk.

The line of Schenn, Simmonds, and Briere had three goals over the last nine games. All three came from Simmonds. Briere has been scoreless since Feb. 18, and Schenn hasn't scored since he connected twice on Feb. 23.

"I wouldn't read anything into it," coach Peter Laviolette said of the changes. "We were missing guys out on the ice today."

Missing were Max Talbot (maintenance day) and Mike Knuble (personal day). Knuble, 40, has not played since March 5.

Gagne, who was traded back to the Flyers last month, said that it is going to be hard to make the playoffs and that the team has not been "consistent enough." He missed the playoffs just once in 10 seasons as a Flyer before being traded to Tampa Bay in 2010.

This season's trade deadline is April 3.

Scott Hartnell said he knows that players are being evaluated.

"You're playing for jobs. You're playing for contracts. You're playing for where you want to be next year," Hartnell said. "So it's important how we play here."

Contact Matt Breen at Follow on Twitter @matt_breen.

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