Flyers Notes: Flyers look to avoid slow start again

Posted: October 02, 2013

The Flyers open the season Wednesday against visiting Toronto, and last season's disappointing start is still fresh on their collective minds.

The Flyers began last season 0-3 and 2-6 and never recovered, missing the playoffs for just the second time in the last 18 seasons.

"Starting the way we did was frustrating, and you try to climb back right away," captain Claude Giroux said Monday after a 21/2-hour practice in Voorhees. "I think the first few games, Toronto and Montreal, are going to be pretty big games for us."

The Flyers play eight of their first 12 games at the Wells Fargo Center.

"We need to get a different start from last year, starting Wednesday," defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "The team game is going to be the issue - [and showing] consistency. Last year we didn't win two games in a row too many times. That's going to be the key for us moving forward. We've got to be able to win games in a row."

The Flyers didn't win more than two straight games last season until they took the final four games.

Hall, Gervais demoted

The Flyers set their roster by loaning forward Adam Hall and defenseman Bruno Gervais to the AHL Phantoms. Hall could return when the Flyers place Chris Pronger on the long-term injured list and open salary-cap space.

According to general manager Paul Holmgren, the Flyers are about $25,000 under the $64.3 million cap.

If Pronger ($4.9 million cap hit) is put on long-term injured reserve, the Flyers would also have enough room to offer veteran defenseman Hal Gill a contract. Gill is a free agent.

The moves - they also placed Marc-Andre Bourdon on the nonroster injured reserve list - leave the Flyers with 22 players: 12 forwards, eight defenseman (including, temporarily, Pronger) and two goalies.

Holmgren said he would like to carry an extra forward, which means Hall will probably return.

Power-play focus

The Flyers, taking advantage of having a healthy team for one of the few times in camp, did lots of work on their power play Monday.

A year ago, they were strong on the power play (21.6 percent success rate, third in the NHL) and penalty kill (85.9 percent, fifth), but struggled in even-strength situations.

The top power-play unit Monday: Scott Hartnell, Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jake Voracek and Timonen.

The No. 2 unit: Brayden Schenn, Vinny Lecavalier, Matt Read, Andrej Meszaros and Mark Streit.

Quotable

Giroux, who had finger surgery after a bizarre golf injury last month: "I haven't given up golf, but hopefully this summer I won't have much time to play" if the team is deep in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Breakaways

Two seasons ago, coach Peter Laviolette called Giroux the "best player in the world" during the playoffs. "I stand by my words," he said after Monday's practice. . . . No announcement yet, but signs are pointing to Ray Emery starting in goal Wednesday against Toronto, which opens its season Tuesday in Montreal.

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