Nick Shultz wanted to play Sunday — or at the latest on Monday.
Instead, the veteran defenseman has no choice but to wait until Wednesday, when the Flyers host the Bruins. Four long days will have passed since the Flyers last game, a 4-0 home win on Saturday over the Islanders, which was also their third straight.
If it was up to Shultz, the schedule would include fewer days off. While he likes the time off to recuperate, Schultz knows the Flyers haven’t fared well this year in games after an extended break.
“I think it’s happened to us before where we have come back and not played great,” said Shultz, who will play in his 1,000thNHL game against the Bruins. “We’ve been talking a little bit about that now. We have to take care of ourselves.
“We’ve got some momentum right now so we have to make sure we are ready to go Wednesday. We have to realize how we played (Saturday) and the things we did well and carry that on.”
It’s not uncommon for NHL teams to come out flat after a long break, but the Flyers seem to have fallen victim at every turn this season.
After starting the season 3-2-1, they went six days without a game. Over the next nine games, they went 2-7, including a six-game losing streak.
From the end of November until the Christmas break, which lasted another six days, the Flyers compiled an 8-2-2 mark to resurrect their season and climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff race. Yet, they failed to pick up a point during the ensuing three-game trip through California.
“It was Christmas and we were off the ice for a couple of days and then we had to travel,” said forward Matt Read. “I am not making any excuses with how we played out West, but … we know each game we need a 60-minute effort and two big points are on the line. We are playing good now and we gotta keep going and doing the little things that are causing success for our team.”
The players had the day off Sunday before returning to the rink Monday and Tuesday.
“It starts in practice,” forward Sean Couturier said. “We have to go hard and get back in that game mode.”
The Flyers rebounded from the dreadful road trip last week with wins over the Canadiens, Wild and Islanders and sat just three points out of the final wild card berth heading into Sunday’s games. Now, they just have to figure out how to carry the same edge they’ve played with last week into this week and Wednesday’s showdown.
“I think it’s just a mindset, mentally,” Schultz said. “Physically we will get that rest and guys will be feeling good in to Wednesday (but) you get three days and your brain kind of shuts off a little bit. We have to get back at it mentally come Wednesday.”