SAN JOSE, Calif. — Shayne Gostisbehere was one of the first players on the ice for Tuesday morning’s workout.
Gostisbehere looked good and displayed no signs of an injury he suffered in the preseason finale against the Islanders. General manager Ron Hextall attached an “upper body” designation to the blueliner's injury on Sunday when Gostisbehere was sandwiched by two Islanders defensemen. While Hextall provided a “we’ll see” answer to Gostisbehere’s availability, the Flyers' third-year defenseman sounded supremely confident that he would be ready to play Wednesday night in the season opener against the Sharks.
“I’m good to go. I’m so excited,” Gostisbehere said. “Obviously, you feel better as the day goes on. I think for me it’s just mentally getting ready for the season and the first game of the year. I know we’ve all been waiting. We got the young blood in the lineup, too. I think the boys are going to be ready.”
Here are the defensive pairings head coach Dave Hakstol put together for Tuesday’s practice:
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas
Brandon Manning-Robert Hagg
Sam Morin-Shayne Gostisbehere
Gostisbehere has primarily played on the left side, but feels comfortable on the right with the 6-foot-6 Morin as his playing partner.
“Having him back there is a nice calming effect,” Gostisbehere said. “Big Sammy’s a menace down low. He tells me, ‘I’m going to win every battle I have,’ and I believe him because the puck just squirts to me.”
Of course, there’s nothing to say that Hakstol won’t pull a switcheroo Wednesday morning and reshuffle his pairings for the game. The only combo that would appear to be set in stone is Provorov and MacDonald.
Wearing the 'A'
By virtue of a player vote for the alternate captain role, forward Valtteri Filppula will wear the "A" for all home games this season and defenseman Andrew MacDonald will wear the "A" for all road games. They join Wayne Simmonds as the team’s alternate captains to Claude Giroux.
Hakstol changed up the procedure and allowed the players to vote on their new alternates, who replace Pierre-Edouard Bellemare now with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Take a number please
On their first day of practice In San Jose, the Flyers' five rookies had a slightly different look — on the back of their helmets. All five rookies will be wearing different numbers to start the season. Some players had requests. Others just accepted whatever number the organization provided.
Sam Morin, No. 5 — The number he wore with Team Canada, last worn by Braydon Coburn.
Travis Sanheim, No. 6 — The number he wore with the Phantoms, last worn by Andreas Lilja.
Robert Hagg, No. 8 — Never worn it before, last worn by Nicklas Grossmann.
Nolan Patrick, No. 19 — The number he wore with the Brandon Wheat Kings, last worn by Jordan Weal.
Taylor Leier, No. 20 — Never worn it before, last worn by R.J. Umberger.
The last time the Flyers started the season with five rookies on the opening night roster was 1992 when Eric Lindros, Vyacheslav Butsayev, Jason Bowen, Tommy Soderstrom and Dmitri Yushkevich started the year in orange and black.
“It is a different feel,” Hakstol said. “It kind of struck me [Monday]. Some of the young guys were hanging out together as we got off the plane, just before we boarded the team bus. Instead of one or two guys hanging out together, there’s a small group of six to seven guys. That brings a little bit of a different outlook and different energy to the team. I think it’s been very good for our team, veterans included.”
Moment of silence
There will be a moment of silence prior to the singing of the national anthem as the NHL remembers and honors the victims who lost their lives in the deadly shooting Sunday night at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.