Flyers

2017 Flyers training camp: 5 sleepers to watch

2017 Flyers training camp: 5 sleepers to watch

Flyers hockey is back … well, sort of.

The rookie game and media day gave way to the official commencement of 2017 Flyers training camp on Friday in Voorhees, New Jersey.

Which means roster spots and jobs are to be won from now until the season opener Oct. 4 in San Jose, California.

Prior to opening night, the Flyers must submit a roster of no more than 23 players. We know a lot of the obvious candidates in line for openings.

However, let's take a look at five sleepers:

1. Taylor Leier, No. 58
Somewhat of a forgotten man in the Flyers' growing forwards competition, Leier was an AHL All-Star last season after a career-high 49 points (20 goals, 29 assists) in 71 games the year prior with Lehigh Valley. He now has 16 NHL games under his belt and even saw a brief stint on the Flyers' top line in 2016-17, when he appeared in 10 games. The 2012 fourth-round pick is only 23 years old and re-signed on a one-year deal in the offseason. He'll be a winger option for the Flyers when camp breaks and throughout the season.

2. Travis Sanheim, No. 57
Not an unknown as he's arguably the Flyers' top defensive prospect, but Sanheim appears destined to start the 2017-18 season with the Phantoms. There looks to be two slots open on the Flyers' blue line and the early favorites to fill them are Sam Morin and Robert Hagg, both of whom made their NHL debuts last April. The two have a combined five years of AHL experience, while Sanheim is coming off his first season in Lehigh Valley. Still, the 21-year-old is not far off and should give both a legit run for their money. "I'm coming to camp to make the team," Sanheim confidently said in July.

3. Ivan Kosorenkov, No. 89
Obviously, Kosorenkov is not making the big club in camp, but he is fighting for an entry-level contract as an undrafted free agent. The 19-year-old Russian winger earned a training camp invite (the Flyers' only one) after opening eyes at development camp with his quick skates and hands. He also played well in the rookie game. The more you see him, the more you wonder how he went undrafted this summer. The Flyers obviously want to see more of him. This isn't quite a Phil Myers situation, but it's similar in the sense that the Flyers are hoping they have something here in another undrafted FA.

4. Cole Bardreau, No. 42
The injury-stricken Bardreau will not be lacking any motivation. He missed training camp last year because of abdominal surgery and also suffered a litany of injuries while at Cornell, including cervical fractures in his neck. The 24-year-old forward owns four years of college experience and two at the AHL level. He'll have his work cut out for him in training camp against the likes of Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom and Mike Vecchione, among others, but he'll be in the running now healthy.

5. Scott Laughton, No. 21
How can a 2012 first-round pick be a sleeper? Considering many thought Laughton could have been in Vegas at this time of the year, the 23-year-old is in a real prove-it point of his career with the Flyers. The organization somewhat surprisingly protected him in the June expansion draft and now he's just fighting for a roster spot among a busy group of forwards. Despite Laughton's playing only two games with the Flyers last season, general manager Ron Hextall was pleased with the prospect's progress at Lehigh Valley. "Scotty had a terrific year," Hextall said in July. "He improved a lot, his focus and his professionalism. Quite honestly, I think Scotty really grew up last year. So Scott is certainly going to be given an opportunity to make the hockey club."

Get in the holiday spirit with the Flyers

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Philadelphia Flyers

Get in the holiday spirit with the Flyers

Before the Flyers get in the spirit for a sixth straight win on Saturday night, they’ll get you in the holiday spirit, too.

Prior to puck drop against the Stars on NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Flyers will put on a unique holiday-themed light show, which will illuminate the Wells Fargo Center and its ice.

The “Holiday Light Spectacular,” which is presented by the Rothman Institute at Jefferson, will be a 10-minute show starting at 7 p.m., as all fans will be given light-up bracelets to complement a fun Flyers holiday video featured on the ice.

“This show is a new, can’t-miss holiday attraction in Philadelphia and one that we hope becomes an annual tradition for us,” Shawn Tilger, the Flyers’ executive vice president, chief operating officer, alternate governor, said in a release by the team. “This show is in line with the holiday staples of the region, and we’re excited to bring entertainment of this caliber to Flyers fans here on Saturday night.”

For fans with youngsters, Santa Claus will also be in attendance, taking free photos on the main concourse.

Flyers grind for ugly win over Sabres to push streak to 5

Flyers grind for ugly win over Sabres to push streak to 5

BOX SCORE

It was a Flyers’ win with a capital “U.” 

That’s “U” as in ugly.

However, it was still good enough to beat the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the Buffalo Sabres, as the Flyers skated away with a 2-1 victory at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday night (see observations).

It’s the type of game the Flyers lost earlier in the season during their previous homestead when they came out sloppy against the lowly Arizona Coyotes in an eventual 4-3 loss in overtime.  

“I thought this was a boring game,” Jakub Voracek said. “Honestly, I don’t think we played good today, but we got the win, which is really important. You’re not going to play great every night. We played well when we needed to, but we can play a lot better, which is positive.”

Nothing was uglier than the game’s first goal when Brian Elliott attempted to play the puck behind his net. Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons intercepted Elliott’s pass and fed the puck to Ryan O’Reilly, who had a wide-open, unattended net in front of him.

“They came hard and a little miscommunication,” Elliott said. “Bad play on my part and we did a heck of a job of coming back and tying that up. That can go sideways in a hurry. We sorted it out, but our first period was kind of sloppy.”

After Elliott nearly made the same mistake again in the opening period, the Flyers rebounded to the tie game at 1-1 as Travis Sanheim scored his first NHL goal off a feed from Dale Weise (see highlights). However, even Sanheim admitted, the goal was a silver lining from a dark cloud that was looming over him defensively with failed clears and breakdowns in coverage.  

“I don’t think we were very happy with our first period, especially me,” Sanheim said. “Minus the goal, I thought that might have been my worst period of the season, but I think we bounced back and battled hard in the final 40 and came through with the win.”

“He’s been pressing for a little while, so I was so happy to see him get a smile on his face,” Weise said of Sanheim’s goal. “That’s going to do wonders for his game. You see a shift after he gets another chance there. I’m so happy for him.”

Sanheim’s season in some ways has mirrored that of the Flyers’ schedule — a yo-yo performance with bouts of inconsistency. Coming off a 10-game winless stretch, the Flyers have now won five straight. Throughout both streaks, head coach Dave Hakstol has stuck with Sanheim when some coaches may have wavered. 

“There’s always lessons along the way, especially for a young defenseman,” Hakstol said. “He’s had some bumps in the road that every defenseman is going to go through. Tonight’s maybe a little indicative of that. Travis is always honest with himself and the evaluation of his own play, and for me, that always helps keep his feet on the ground and move on to the next challenge.”

“I want to make hard plays and I’ve got to make sure the puck gets over our blue line,” Sanheim said. “It’s easier to sit back and say I could have done this, I could have done that. Going forward, I’ve just got to try and limit those mistakes and try and play a harder game.” 

The Flyers eventually produced the breakthrough goal late in the second period on a tic-tac-toe play started by Michael Raffl, who fed a pass to Voracek and then onto Valtteri Filppula for the one-time goal.

“Those are the best wins,” said Raffl, who played in his 300th career game. “You’re pretty happy when you win 4-1 and you play your best game. It’s easy to laugh, but that was a war out there and the last period, especially, but we came together as a group.”

Of the 14 one-goal games the Flyers have played this season, this was just the third time they earned a victory. Many of those games when they failed to earn a winning decision came after regulation.

“It’s all about confidence,” Voracek said. “Two or three weeks ago when we went into the third period, we would lose that game. Now it’s about making sure those loose pucks get out of the zone and don’t make any dumb decisions.”

“I think it’s huge. When we were in that streak, we blew a lot of leads late in games,” Weise said. “Minus the last two minutes where I think we sat back a little, I thought we did a good job of moving the puck forward, forechecking and not sitting back too much. It’s more of a mental thing to win those type of games.”