NINE DAYS AGO after the Flyers' loss in Carolina Kimmo Timonen was visibly distraught standing in the visitors' locker room at PNC Arena. His cries were falling on deaf ears. For more than a year Timonen had been beating the drum that the Flyers' team skating needed to be better. "We've got to get skating" Timonen said on Oct. 6. "The last two games it looked like we were standing still. We haven't skated as good as we can." Peter Laviolette was fired the next day. Fast forward a week to yesterday's practice and it is clear that someone was listening to Timonen - or at least new coach Craig Berube shares the same opinion. Berube has only run three full practices as the Flyers' new boss but the change has been markedly different. The tempo is faster. There is very little idle time. Drills involve full-ice skating. And almost every practice so far wraps up with sprints something usually reserved only for large gaps in the schedule under Laviolette. "They have been some of the hardest practices in years" Scott Hartnell said Friday. "You actually break a sweat" Jay Rosehill said last Thursday. The skating has been better but the results have not shown that yet. The Flyers could use them this week - with home games against the Canucks and Penguins - as a 3-5-0 mark with a full 7 days between games is a lot different than 1-7-0. According to Berube the Flyers didn't come into training camp in optimal skating shape. And Laviolette's training camp probably wasn't tough enough to build it up. "He thinks we're not in really good skating shape and I totally agree with that" Timonen said. "When I say good shape I mean good skating shape. Skating is a different thing than riding a bike. We've been practicing pretty hard and skating at the end of practices. I don't think he would have been skating us if he thought we were in good shape. It can always be better." Previously the Flyers had to be considered one of the NHL's slowest teams and they are also one of the oldest with an average age of 28.1 years. "I am trying to get us faster" Berube said. "You can always work at getting quicker." So far Timonen likes what he has seen under Berube. Timonen thought "we actually controlled that game" Saturday in Detroit. "We've been skating" Timonen said yesterday. "I've been saying this for a couple years. When we do skate we're a really hard team to play against. When we don't skate it seems other teams have an easy way to get out of the zone. It's a process but it's been a little better."
Skating shape a priority for Flyers
Philly.com | Oct 15