With renewed stamina and virus precautions, Flyers are ready for game action — and the bubble

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Kevin Hayes knew he had to keep his helmet on.

The Flyers forward netted a hat trick during the team's Tuesday morning scrimmage. In a crowded arena, fans would traditionally throw hats on the ice in celebration of a three-goal game. Even a practice could result in some good-natured hat-tossing from those involved. 

However, there were no fedoras flying on the ice. Hat trick celebrations, along with group hugs, are prohibited during the pandemic — one of many adjustments Hayes and his teammates continue to make as they get ready to resume game action.

“It’s becoming normal now to show up to the rink every day, handing in your spit test, and trying to be cognizant every day you are away from the rink,” said Hayes. “You're doing the right things and make sure you don’t put yourself in harm’s way of this virus. Obviously, it’s a sport we love to play, and it’s something that we love to do.”

Players usually have plenty of work to worry about when preparing for game action. These Flyers are also dealing with regular testing for COVID-19, among other strict restrictions. 

Player Morgan Frost has spent the past week adjusting, and now he’s battling for ice time as the start of the postseason draws closer.

“Keep an open mind,” Frost advised. “It’s kind of weird coming back in the middle of the summer the first week here, but now that I’ve been here for a while, I’ve kind of settled in. I’m just trying to enjoy myself and work hard every day.”

The big concern for all of the returning teams was getting their conditioning back up to speed. With little time to prepare for the playoffs, the coaches have tried to set a faster pace — without pushing their players to the point of a higher risk of injury. 

Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said the players are beginning to get their stamina back after settling in at training camp.

“This team is pretty dialed right now in that sense of conditioning,” said Gostisbehere. “We are just going to hammer in the systems for the next week and get ready to go to the bubble. I believe we’re pretty good conditioning-wise, and we’re going to pick up where we left off.”

The Flyers will be in Toronto later this week. They will begin round-robin play against Boston on Aug. 2.

Hayes and the rest of his teammates know the conditions will be the same once they head north of the border.

“You can’t kind of do what we used to do,” Hayes added, “going to dinner every night and hanging out, seeing each other away from the rink. We all have to buy in and do the right things and do our part in order to stay safe.”