John Boruk

Flyers make roster cuts by sending Philippe Myers, Nicolas Aube-Kubel to Phantoms

Flyers make roster cuts by sending Philippe Myers, Nicolas Aube-Kubel to Phantoms

Minutes after the Flyers' loss to the Bruins Monday, the remaining rookies had their equipment packed up and carried out of the Wells Fargo Center dressing room as if they had played their final game.

For Philippe Myers and Nicolas Aube-Kubel, it was an omen.

The Flyers announced Tuesday afternoon that both guys would return to the Phantoms, who began training camp in Allentown, Pennsylvania, two days ago.

Myers started off with a strong camp, displaying the agility and physical presence working against Claude Giroux and other skilled forwards in 1-on-1 drills (see story). Myers looked fresh, battle-tested and ready to handle whatever the Flyers could throw his way.  

Still, Dave Hakstol wanted to test the 21-year-old defenseman’s mental and physical fortitude. Myers dressed in five of the six preseason games while playing some solid minutes on the penalty kill and the power play. While he looked at times as if he belonged, Myers' play also didn’t jump off the page like we saw out of Travis Sanheim a year ago.

The right-handed defenseman’s most glaring mistake of the preseason came Monday night when he blindly threw a backhanded pass into the middle of the ice, teeing up Lee Stempniak for a one-time goal and a 4-0 Boston lead. 

“I thought I heard somebody call for it," Myers said. "It was a bad read by me. I've got to learn from that and turn the page."

It wasn’t necessarily the nail in Myers' coffin to make the opening night roster, but perhaps the return of Andrew MacDonald was. MacDonald’s original prognosis from a lower-body injury put him out for the first six to eight games of the season, but his impressive recovery coupled with Sanheim’s return to practice meant only that Myers would be an extra defenseman relegated as a healthy scratch to start the season.

The Flyers may have expected a little bit more out of Aube-Kubel entering his third year of professional hockey.

Equipped with an impressive blend of speed, a hard, quick shot and a strong, physical forecheck, Aube-Kubel couldn’t bring all of those elements together consistently. There were flashes of high energy and a blue-collar work ethic when Aube-Kubel was paired with Giroux and Jordan Weal on the top line, but that excitement appeared to be lacking against the Bruins playing together with Jori Lehtera and Dale Weise.

According to general manager Ron Hextall, Aube-Kubel had been experiencing soreness, which may have contributed to his lackluster effort Monday, but there was room for him only as a fourth-line right winger. Since he wasn’t part of the PK rotation, which has become a vital role for any fourth-line player (see story), Aube-Kubel’s contributions to the Flyers would have been very limited.

Now Myers and Aube-Kubel will start the season with the Phantoms, where they’ll both be counted on to play some big minutes, and if they continue their AHL progression, there's a very good possibility we will see both guys with the Flyers at some point this season.

The Flyers' roster is now down to 33 players: 

Forwards (19)
Travis Konecny, RW, No. 11
Michael Raffl, RW, No. 12
Sean Couturier, C, No. 14
Jori Lehtera, C, No. 15
Wayne Simmonds, RW, No. 17
Nolan Patrick, C, No. 19
Taylor Leier, LW, No. 20
Scott Laughton, C, No. 21
Dale Weise, RW, No. 22
James van Riemsdyk, LW, No. 25
Claude Giroux, RW, No. 28
Corban Knight, C, No. 38
Tyrell Goulbourne, LW, No. 39
Jordan Weal, C, No. 40
Mikhail Vorobyev, C, No. 46
Oskar Lindblom, LW, No. 54
Pascal Laberge, C, No. 75
Carsen Twarynski, LW, No. 81
Jakub Voracek, RW, No. 93

Defensemen (9)
Radko Gudas, No. 3
Samuel Morin, No. 5
Travis Sanheim, No. 6
Robert Hagg, No. 8
Ivan Provorov, No. 9
Christian Folin, No. 26
Andrew MacDonald, No. 47
Shayne Gostisbehere, No. 53
Mark Friedman, No. 59

Goaltenders (5)
Michal Neuvirth, No. 30
Alex Lyon, No. 34
Brian Elliott, No. 37
Anthony Stolarz, No. 41
Carter Hart, No. 79

More on the Flyers

Can killing penalties actually determine who makes the Flyers' roster?

Can killing penalties actually determine who makes the Flyers' roster?

For any NFL rookie or young player on the bubble, it’s almost a prerequisite to making the final roster. 

You have to excel, or at the very least, contribute to special teams. 

Something that also applies to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Exactly one week from today, Dave Hakstol’s opening night roster will have to be submitted to the league office by 5 p.m., and there’s still some tough decisions that have to be made. Most importantly is the search to find those last two or three forwards to round out the roster.

While it’s not specifically stated in the job description, the ability to kill penalties could very well determine who stays in Philadelphia and who goes to Lehigh Valley. They’re the hard minutes that GMs and coaches want their more skilled players and superstars to avoid, if possible.

“Sometimes those guys don’t get a lot of minutes so you like to have guys that can kill penalties down on the fourth line,” general manager Ron Hextall said. “It would be nice to have some physical play down on the fourth line. Certainly some energy, you've got to have guys that play with some energy down there, but to have penalty killers on the fourth line helps because it alleviates your top guys’ minutes.”

If you don’t think the Flyers place a premium on fourth-line penalty killing, consider in 2016-17 Pierre Edouard-Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde spent 21 percent, or a combined 429 minutes, of their ice time killing penalties. While an unusually high amount, that percentage far exceeds the ice time skilled forwards like Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek spend on the power play, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 16-18 percent. 

While the Flyers' top penalty-killing forward Sean Couturier has yet to play in a preseason game, Hakstol continues to experiment with a myriad of different combinations to see what pairs communicate and work well together and which ones don’t. Monday night against the Bruins, Jori Lehtera was flanked to the left of Dale Weise, while Scott Laughton was teamed with Corban Knight.  

Eventually, it was Michael Raffl along with Weise that created the neutral-zone turnover, which led to Weise’s shorthanded goal. Raffl’s takeaway is one of those critical plays that can change the momentum of a game as the Flyers proceeded to score three goals in a span of 2:44 to cut a 4-0 deficit to one goal (see highlights).

The Flyers haven’t had enough of those plays, and more importantly, just overall efficient penalty killing in Hakstol’s three seasons in Philadelphia. The PK unit has yet to finish higher than 20th in the league in each of the past three seasons, and every indication is that the team believes the problem lies more in its personnel than in its setup or structure.

It will also be interesting to see how much the Flyers continue to rely on their No. 1 center Couturier as a penalty killer once he returns and if the team attempts to curtail those “hard” minutes like it has done with Giroux over the past five years.

As much as you’d like to see the organization move on from players like Lehtera and Weise, the Flyers potentially see value when it comes to killing penalties. 

“We still don’t know exactly what we have this year,” Hakstol said Monday. “We still have another week in camp before we have to make final decisions on who we’re going to travel west with.”

More on the Flyers

Bruins 4, Flyers 3: Thoughts on the worst performance of the preseason so far

Bruins 4, Flyers 3: Thoughts on the worst performance of the preseason so far

BOX SCORE

The Flyers simply couldn’t handle the B’s B-team.

Playing without most of their regulars, the Bruins handled the Flyers' comeback, winning, 4-3, and dropping the Flyers' preseason record to 3-2-1.

Here are my observations Monday from the Wells Fargo Center: 

1. The Flyers came to life in the second period, outshooting the Bruins, 18-9. However, overall, this was by far their worst game of the preseason. Boston rested a lot of its regulars following an exhibition series with the Calgary Flames in China. All of its key players stayed back home, which made this performance that much more disheartening. We should see something closer to the actual Bruins next Saturday in Boston.

2. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald had to work on some first-period rust. On his second shift of the game, MacDonald turned the puck over horribly in his own zone, which was one gaffe. In the same sequence, MacDonald kicked the puck away from Brian Elliott, who was about to cover up. That sequence eventually led to Peter Cehlarik’s goal. MacDonald looked better as the game wore on. 

3. Should Flyers fans have any concern about Elliott? A little bit as he still appears to be working out the kinks. While the first goal was a series of breakdowns and a failure to clear the zone, the Bruins' second goal — a Brandon Carlo snap shot — was one Elliott has to stop despite James van Riemsdyk venturing too far down defensively to stop the pass and block the shot. Elliott also faced a couple of shorthanded breakaways. He turned aside Jordan Szwarz coming down the left wing, but was beaten later in the second period by Chris Wagner.  

4. I think this was a big game in determining Nicolas Aube-Kubel’s future with the team. Having played on a line with skilled players Claude Giroux and Jordan Weal previously, Aube-Kubel was working with Jori Lehtera and Dale Weise. In the first period, Aube-Kubel appeared gun shy and passed up on a really good scoring chance from the left circle. He instead elected to pass to Philippe Myers at his right defense position.

5. Jakub Voracek took a nasty hit from Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer as he nailed Voracek up high right in front of the Flyers' bench. Kampfer was given two minutes for roughing. Voracek was fortunate he wasn’t nailed into the boards, where there was a panel of glass or the impact may have led to injury.

6. I don’t think Myers has had the outstanding camp, like Travis Sanheim a year ago, that would have guaranteed his place on the roster. In fact, Myers may have regressed a little bit in Week 2. Myers blindly backhanded a pass straight into the slot, which led to Lee Stempniak’s slap shot and the Bruins' fourth goal of the game.  

7. Michael Raffl gave the Flyers one of his best efforts of the preseason. Raffl was noticeable for most of the game as he was quick to pucks and strong along the boards. Raffl forced the neutral zone turnover that led to Dale Weise’s 2-on-1 shorthanded goal. From that moment, the Flyers scored three goals in a 2:44 third-period span.  

Lines and pairings

Forwards
Giroux-Mikhail Vorobyev-Travis Konecny
van Riemsdyk-Nolan Patrick-Voracek
Aube-Kubel-Lehtera-Weise
Scott Laughton-Corban Knight-Raffl

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere 
MacDonald-Christian Folin 
Robert Hagg-Myers

Goaltenders
Elliott
Anthony Stolarz

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