Flyers

Nolan Patrick begins push to make Flyers as rookie camp gets underway

Nolan Patrick begins push to make Flyers as rookie camp gets underway

VOORHEES, N.J. — Five days ago, Nolan Patrick was in rural Canada shooting ducks. Now, the future Flyers center is focused entirely on shooting pucks following a rather eventful offseason that included the draft and offseason surgery.

“It was exciting,” Patrick said Monday following his first practice in a Flyers sweater. “My first time skating with some of the guys here. I got in a good amount of time and training this summer so I’m feeling confident in my game and it went well.”

Patrick has begun his push at making the Flyers' opening night roster. The No. 2 overall pick in the draft was one of 25 prospects on the ice for the first day of Flyers rookie camp after arriving in Philadelphia over the weekend.

“I thought he had a good day, looked strong,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “I think we’ll able to see his progression as he goes through camp. Sometimes, as young players, there’s different points in camp where you see young guys hit a wall. ... He’s just got to go out and continue building his game and, as you go to main camp, it’s going to get tougher.”  

Patrick said he finally felt 100 percent around three weeks ago when he regained his conditioning skating three times a week before increasing his workload to four times a week in the days leading up to camp. Part of his offseason regimen included off-ice work in a remote location near the Manitoba/Ontario border with a group of NHL veterans that included three-time Stanley Cup champion and fellow Winnipeg native Jonathan Toews.

“He’s a really intelligent guy. One of the best guys I’ve ever met,” Patrick said about Toews. “I’d be here all day if I listed the things he taught me. ... He knows a lot about different kinds of training, nutrition and stuff like that.”  

Patrick’s offseason skating program in Philadelphia was delayed because of an abscessed boil that formed on his face.

“I was hiding with a hood up for a bit there,” Patrick said regarding the condition, which lasted about five days.

Once Patrick got past that unexpected obstacle, his regimen included what he referred to as “a lot of mobility stuff” and “getting his hips back to where they needed to be” as he looks to make the jump from the Western Hockey League straight to the NHL.

“That’s my goal coming in," Patrick said. "Just going to compete as hard as I can, and do everything I can to earn a spot. The main thing for me is competing every day and playing as hard as I can.”  

Rookie line combos
For an organization with one of the deepest talent pools of prospects in the NHL, there’s a real possibility that as many as four rookies could start the season on the Flyers' opening night roster, with two on defense to go along with Patrick and winger Oskar Lindblom. Last season, defenseman Ivan Provorov and forward Travis Konecny, the Flyers' two first-round picks in the 2015 draft, made the big club out of camp.

“I think the sense of opportunity has been made very clear over the summertime,” Hakstol said. “There’s opportunity for veterans and there’s opportunity for young guys. Guys should be excited. There’s guys in position hopefully to have good camps and to take advantage of some of those opportunities.”

Line combinations for Day 1 of camp:

Radel Fazleev — Mike Vecchione — Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Connor Bunnaman — Nolan Patrick — Anthony Salinitri

Carsen Twarynski — Mikhail Vorobyev — Ivan Kosorenkov

Oskar Lindblom — German Rubtsov — Pascal Laberge

Isaac Ratcliffe — Morgan Frost — Matthew Strome/Maksim Sushko

News and notes
• Defenseman Robert Hagg is not part of the rookie camp even if 2017-18 will serve as his rookie season. With three full professional seasons at the AHL level (over 200 games played) and seven defensemen on the rookie roster, general manager Ron Hextall allowed Hagg to join the veterans for the beginning of camp on Sept. 15.

• Hakstol will evaluate Wednesday’s rookie game against the Islanders from the press box of the Wells Fargo Center with Flyers assistant coach Gord Murphy and Phantoms assistant Kerry Huffman behind the bench.  

• Shayne Gostisbehere had planned originally to fly his family out of Florida by way of charter to avoid Hurricane Irma, but after further deliberations, the Gostisbeheres elected to fuel up and hit the road. His sister drove from the Tampa area to Nashville while Gostisbehere's parents made the drive safely from Fort Lauderdale to North Carolina. Aside from some leakage at his sister’s residence, it appears their homes remained intact.

Preseason TV schedule
The Flyers' preseason broadcast schedule was announced on Monday.

Of the seven preseason games the Flyers will play, three will be broadcasted on TCN — Sept. 26 vs. the New York Rangers (7 p.m.), Sept. 28 vs. Boston (7 p.m.), Oct. 1 vs. the New York Islanders (5 p.m.).

Claude Julien gets last laugh in return to Boston

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AP Images

Claude Julien gets last laugh in return to Boston

BOSTON -- David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner each scored an early goal, Tuukka Rask stopped 21 shots and the Bruins beat Montreal 4-1 Wednesday night in Canadiens coach Claude Julien's return to Boston.

The surging Bruins have earned at least a point in 14 straight games (10-0-4), their longest stretch since going 15-0-1 in March 2014.

Brad Marchand added a power-play goal in the third period, David Krejci had an empty-netter and Patrice Bergeron had two assists for Boston, which posted its second win over the Canadiens in five days. The teams meet again in Montreal on Saturday night.

Jakub Jerabek scored his first NHL goal for Montreal, and Carey Price made 28 saves.

Julien, who coached Boston's Stanley Cup-winning team in 2011, was fired last Feb. 7 in his 10th season. He was replaced by assistant and current Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who opted for more up-tempo, charge-into-the-zone play from his defensemen as opposed to Julien's mostly defensive-minded style.

Rask extended his career-best point streak to 15 games (13-0-2), including a 4-3 shootout win at Montreal last Saturday (see full recap).

Ducks score 4 in 2nd period to beat Penguins
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Rickard Rakell and Adam Henrique scored 1:35 apart to Anaheim the lead during its four-goal second period, and the Ducks went on to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 Wednesday night.

Chris Wagner and Ondrej Kase also scored for Anaheim in the middle period, and Hampus Lindholm added an empty-netter in the final second of the game. John Gibson stopped 30 shots to help the Ducks improve to 7-3-1 in their last 11 games.

Anaheim scored four goals in a period for first time since doing it in the third period at Buffalo last Feb. 9.

Jake Guentzel, Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game win streak. Tristan Jarry made 28 saves.

With the Ducks trailing 1-0, Rakell tied it on a redirect of a shot by Francois Beauchemin at 4:17 of the second. Henrique then put them ahead at 5:42, beating Jarry with a wraparound while the rookie was caught flatfooted at the opposite post trying to get his stick back.

Wagner scored on a short-handed breakaway to make it 3-1 at 9:24, notching the third special-teams goal of his career, all of which have come this season.

Kase's smooth breakaway backhand with 1:32 left in the period capped off the scoring deluge. Kase, who also had an assist, has five points in his last three games (see full recap).

Where is Dave Hakstol's sixth sense?

Where is Dave Hakstol's sixth sense?

VOORHEES, N.J. — Movie director M. Night Shyamalan may have created the sixth sense, and some of the more successful coaches in the NHL actually possess it. 

No, not the ability to see dead people, but rather, the recognition of assessing in-game situations and taking an immediate and proactive course of action before the team and the game itself begins to unravel.

Predators coach and former Flyers bench boss Peter Laviolette had an uncanny ability to utilize his only timeout at a moment when the team needed desperately to refocus during a stretch of poor hockey. Laviolette may have signaled for one during a lackluster first period or at the first sign of trouble in the third period.

He’d rip the gum out of his mouth and begin the process of chewing out his guys. His face would turn red and his temperature would rise as if it was measured by the red liquid in a thermometer. More often than not, Laviolette’s teams responded swiftly and appropriately to his message. He had an ability to seize the moment when others may not have seen it coming.

It’s a club Hakstol simply doesn’t have in his bag.

Hakstol prefers to hold onto his timeout predictably when the Flyers are down a goal late in the third period to draw up a play on the dry-erase board or to give his players a breather following an icing call. Rarely, if ever, is that timeout taken in an effort to overcome the opposition’s surge of momentum.

Same can be said for Hakstol’s decision to make a goaltending change.

In the Flyers' two most recent lopsided losses, both 5-1 setbacks to the Penguins and Rangers, Hakstol chose to pull Elliott after two periods with the outcomes pretty much decided heading into the third period. 

Regarding the Flyers' loss to New York Tuesday night: "We put [Elliott] in a pretty tough spot," Hakstol said postgame (see story). "Looking back on it, I could make the change after the fourth goal, but I felt like we put him in pretty tough spots tonight with the opportunities that we gave up in the first 30 minutes of the game."

While every coach seems to possess hindsight, not every coach has the appropriate sense of foresight. Goaltending changes can be the result of poor play in net and Elliott wasn’t great Tuesday night, but the decision can also take on a dual-purpose. Give the backup playing time while also attempting to ignite a spark up and down the bench.

Send a message that it’s not the goaltender’s responsibility alone for digging this hole, but since he can’t bench all 18 skaters, bench the goalie as a result of everyone else’s poor play. 

In both losses to the Penguins and Rangers, once Hakstol decided to replace Elliott with Neuvirth, the Flyers were facing a 4-1 and 5-1 deficit, respectively, heading into the third period. The coach would have had better success creating a spark by rubbing two sticks together.

Over the course of an 82-game season, it’s important for a coach to remain consistent with his message. Over the duration of a 60-minute game, that message is tailored around the team’s performance. Moments and situations elicit when a coach should be bold with his words or more reserved.

Judging by his manner and behavior behind the bench, Hakstol’s barometer rarely tilts one way or the other, and the team has seemingly taken on the personality of its coach, especially at times when urgency is required.

“It’s got to be the same this time of year,” Hakstol said when asked about the team’s mindset following a 5-1 loss. “It’s never as bad you think and it’s never as good as you think. Address the issues, be direct about it, fix them and move forward.”

However, the Flyers are now 27th in the league when trailing after the first period and 25th when trailing after two periods. Against the Penguins and Rangers, the Flyers gave themselves no chance at forcing overtime when every single point matters right now, especially against the two teams they’re chasing in the wild-card standings.      

Hakstol can attempt to correct X's and O’s, but at some point, his decision-making and ability to put his finger on the pulse of his team will become an X-factor.