Flyers practice in Central Park

Mike Richards, left, and Ville Leino enjoy their unconventional outdoor practice in New York City's Central Park. (Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

For the second January in a row, the Flyers took it outside.

And the venue was every bit as iconic as Fenway Park - just a different type of park.

No, the Flyers haven’t received any notifications about possibly participating in the 2012 Winter Classic yet, but they did practice in New York’s famed Central Park on Saturday afternoon.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette planned the practice out in advance but did not release the information ahead of time, so his team could skate in the park on a chilly Saturday without much hoopla and fanfare.

There are two rinks at Central Park - one for public skating and one for hockey - but both offer picturesque views of the Manhattan skyline. The Flyers practiced at Lasker Rink, which is converted into a public swimming pool in the summer when not used for skating from October through March.

Rather than take a day off on Saturday after arriving in New York early Saturday morning - which is their third city in three nights - Laviolette decided to keep his players out of the shops and stores of America’s shopping mecca. Many of the Flyers list New York as their favorite road city for that reason.

The practice, though, was an escape from the ordinary. And it wasn't just the scenery. The Flyers wore sweatpants with shinpads instead of their normal equipment and the atmosphere - as you can tell by the pictures - was clearly relaxed.

You can afford to do that when you've been on top of the Eastern Conference for most of the season.

They face the Rangers on Sunday night in their first trip to Madison Square Garden this season. The Rangers, who quietly stalk the Atlantic division pace just 6 points behind the Flyers, are in Montreal on Saturday night.

The Flyers hold a three point lead on Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference heading into Saturday night’s action thanks to three third period goals on Friday night in Atlanta, when Danny Briere broke a 2-2 tie against the Thrashers with 7:12 to go.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers

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