Do Flyers need to practice?

Toronto Maple Leafs' Mike Brown, right, checks Philadelphia Flyers' Zac Rinaldo in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Feb 25, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

For the fifth consecutive day in which they had a chance to practice, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette kept his team off the ice on Tuesday.

Only the Flyers’ scratches, including Harry Zolnierczyk, Kurtis Foster, backup goaltenders Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton, injured defenseman Andrej Meszaros and the team’s assistant coaches skated in Voorhees.

For sure, it's a casualty of this lockout-shortened season. But the Flyers have not had a full, on-ice practice since Feb. 14. They are 3-4 in their 7 games since Valentine’s Day.

Do they need it?

“It’s definitely not the reason why we’ve been inconsistent,” Danny Briere said. “You can’t use that as an excuse. We’ve been up and down and it’s something that we’re trying to fix. At some point, it’s going to reverse and going to be to our advantage a little more.”

As we’ve outlined, the Flyers’ schedule has been brutal. In many respects, it's the toughest schedule in the league so far.

Practice time is a delicate juggling act for a coach in this situation. Minor injuries are a mystery during a hockey season. And some players, like Ilya Bryzgalov and Claude Giroux, lead the league in minutes.

No goaltender has played more minutes than Bryzgalov (1,076.09). Only the Devils’ Ilya Kovalchuk (490:53) has played more than Giroux (455:52).

 “The way he (Giroux) battles, guys like Kimmo (Timonen), they deserve these days off,” Scott Hartnell said. “We’ll practice (Wednesday, pre-game skate), I’m sure we’ll work on power play and penalty kill, get some flow going. The first month, month and a half of practice, there was zero time to practice. I feel like I was watching games almost every night. The time off from practice is good for our best players.”

This is the time of the season when the Flyers’ schedule begins to even out. They played 19 games in 31 days, now they’re in a stretch of 12 games in 31 days. Five of their next 8 games are in Philadelphia, and their only road trips are New York (train), New Jersey (bus) and Boston (quick flight).

They’re going to need to practice at some point.

“The games are coming too quick,” Laviolette said. “The most important thing is rest. We tried to handle things today on video, go over things that we can do better through the course of games and things we did well. That’s really where we’re at. We decided working on things in our own building with our pre-game skate tomorrow and rest for today for would best.”

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