Don’t worry. Be happy.
That’s the tune the Flyers are singing these days, now that training camp is finally under way. The long awaited season opener against the hated Penguins is Saturday.
While others fear stringing 48 games together in a three-month span will lead to pulled hamstrings and other ailments, they would rather subscribe to the 1988 lyrics of Bobby McFerrin.
“Do we have a different choice?” asked 33-year-old winger Ruslan Fedotenko, a 12-year veteran in his second Flyers’ tour of duty. “We don’t, so my attitude is why worry if you can’t do anything about it? Just go with the flow and try to be as prepared as possible.”
It will be Peter Laviolette’s job to know which buttons to push and just how hard, as he reassembles the pieces from a team that fell on its playoff face after taking out the Pens last spring. Most of those pieces are familiar, though the losses (Jaromir Jagr, Matt Carle, James van Riemsdyk, Sergei Bobrovsky) seem to outweigh the gains (defensemen Luke Schenn and Bruno Gervais, Fedotenko and resurrected goalie Michael Leighton).
Countering that is the Flyers’ youth, where young legs could make a difference when the games pile up, coupled with the fact most of them have been playing hockey during the lockout.
“Most of the guys are in game shape coming back from playing overseas or in the AHL,” said 28-year-old checking line center Max Talbot. “When the season starts you’ve got to be ready. Where I played [in Finland] it’s a great level of skill. The ice is bigger so you’re doing more skating. It’s not like back in the day when you didn’t train until the start of camp.”
Starting this week we’ll find out if the time guys like Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Jake Voracek spent in Europe, while youngsters Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn were allowed to play for the Phantoms, pays off. We’ll also learn if Ilya Bryzgalov, who could be in line for the NHL’s version of an amnesty buyout if he doesn’t perform, is ready to have a “humongous” season.
A lot of games in a short time span could be great depending on how it turns out. Just be happy they’ll finally be playing hockey, the Flyers say.
The worries? They’ll have to take care of themselves.