Before pulling it off on Vinny Lecavalier’s 3-2 shootout goal Saturday, the last time the Flyers had won in Nashville was 2000. Monday night, Lecavalier and Philly will play in Minnesota against the Wild for the first time since 2010. Later in their current six-game trip the Flyers will travel to Dallas, before wrapping it against the reigning Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks a week from Wednesday in Chicago.
In other words, all of this is relatively new territory for Craig Berube’s team, which is just beginning of a stretch where it will play 13-of-17 games on foreign ice through early January. This includes a Western swing, with stops in Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Denver and Phoenix. None of those towns, of course, were on last season’s itinerary, since the lockout-shortened 48-game season confined teams to play strictly within their own conference.
“We’ve played solid on the road, except for the two games in Florida,” said Scott Hartnell, whose goal 48 seconds into the Flyers’ 11:30 a.m. Black Friday morning special game with Winnipeg triggered a 2-1 win. “This is a huge stretch for us. When you look back at the end of the season, you’ll look back at this month here.”
At 12-12-2 the Flyers stand fifth in the Metropolitan Division, but only four behind second place Washington, with a game in hand. The key is maintaining such proximity until they return from their upcoming holiday trip the second week in January.
“It’s tough, but I think the games are spread out enough,” said Berube, now 12-9-2 since taking over from Peter Laviolette. “It’s a good time to get on the road to get focused. I don’t view it as grueling, I view it as an opportunity.”
They can only hope that opportunity is still knocking when their days on the road finally come to an end a month from now.