Playing with Hart suddenly has the Flyers now playing with heart.
If the small details matter in the game of hockey, consider Thursday's 2-1 win over the Predators actually started Wednesday morning when newly-hired head coach Scott Gordon canceled practice, giving his players a much needed "mental break."
Gordon still hasn't had a full practice since he was named interim coach Monday morning, but recognizing something more important than implementing his system was a big step in the team's preparation.
"It was kinda cool, because he mentioned it wasn't really physical rest is what we needed," Travis Konecny said. "Just a lot went on the road trip, all the changes going on, like a mental thing to just go home and relax and not put on the gear that extra time. It was a smart play."
Jakub Voracek thought the Flyers had a lot of energy as a result of the time away.
It has provided the Flyers newfound confidence to win the close, defensive-minded games they simply let slip through the fingertips under Dave Hakstol. Prior to Tuesday, the Flyers were 1-15-2 in their first 31 games when scoring three goals or fewer. In the past three days, they've doubled that win total. Konecny believes players are buying in after it seemed obvious they were tuned out on the trip to Western Canada.
"It just wasn't working at the time," Konecny said. "(Gordon) has done a great of coming in and kinda adapting to how our team plays and changing a few things and we did a good job listening. I just think everyone's buying in right now and doing the little things."
Konecny's play was proof of that. After blocking a second-period shot that left him in dire pain on the bench, he came back out a few shifts later and stripped defenseman Anthony Bitetto in the neutral zone that led to Claude Giroux's game-winning goal.
Or the human dartboard defenseman Robert Hagg performed during the Flyers' two-minute 5-on-3 penalty kill when he blocked a pair of shots that left a resounding thud. In all, Hagg blocked five shots and earned the player of the game helmet handed down by his goaltender Carter Hart.
Hagg also took a shot off his hand that left his fingers trembling afterward when he spoke to the media.
"Yeah, it's hurting but it's worth it," Hagg said. "I don't how many PKs we had, but every single guy that was on the ice did a hell of a good job."
The Flyers were a perfect 6 for 6, with Hart shutting the door when the guys in front of him couldn't block those shots. It was a much more demanding test than his victory Tuesday over the Red Wings.
"Like night and day better," Hart said. "I could feel it in warmups. I wasn't as anxious. I had a good chat with my sports psychologist last night. I was a bit overwhelmed on Tuesday and had to bring things back to reality."
If you're wondering if Hart is merely holding down the fort until Brian Elliott or Anthony Stolarz return to full health, Chuck Fletcher suggested that's not necessarily the case. The Flyers' GM spoke on The Power Play show on SiriusXM radio just hours before Thursday's game.
"It's hard to predict, but as long as he's playing, I'll be happy and winning games up here that's great," Fletcher said. "We won't put any limits on him."
Makes it sound like the GM is buying into this new Hartbeat as well.
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