Flyers

About to 'get after it,' Nolan Patrick ready for 'big steps'

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About to 'get after it,' Nolan Patrick ready for 'big steps'

Nolan Patrick is no slouch in the strength and speed departments.

The 19-year-old is 6-foot-2, 198 pounds and showed deceptive bursts of giddy-up during his rookie season as the games grew bigger.

Imagine him after a full summer of training?

Patrick, already polished when it comes to being in front of the cameras, had his arms crossed and usual game face on — despite little emotion, he was picturing it.

"It's exciting. First time I can get after it," he said last week at his end-of-the-season press conference. "It's going to be a big summer for me. I'm not satisfied with how the year was or how my year was, so I'm looking to take big steps here."

Summer is a precious time for hockey players. It's when they can hammer away at specific areas to improve, especially with their bodies and skill sets.

Patrick hasn't been so lucky. His past two summers were marred by surgery and recovery. Prior to his final junior season and all-important draft year, Patrick underwent sports hernia surgery. Then, last June, he had abdominal surgery 10 days before the Flyers selected him No. 2 overall.

Sounds like this is the summer of Nolan Patrick.

"I'm just excited to be able to move," Patrick said. "I couldn't even run last summer. I only had about a month last summer to train, so I'm really excited to take a couple weeks off and then get after it. It's going to be some tough work but I'm excited for it."

Aside from moving and getting stronger, Patrick wants to focus on his shot this offseason while working with his skills coach. Last summer, so much was just about getting on the ice and being prepared enough for training camp.

Once Patrick started gaining back his mobility post surgery and following a nine-game absence because of a concussion, the big-bodied center turned it on, solidifying his role as the team's second-line center and joining the first-unit power play.

With each game, Patrick became more and more conspicuous. When the playoffs arrived, he was one of the Flyers' best forwards during the first-round exit to the Penguins.

"I think it was pretty noticeable when I got confident, I was a different player out there," Patrick said. "It was a big part of my game."

In Patrick's first 40 contests, he put up nine points (three goals, six assists) and a minus-3 rating. Over his final 33 regular-season games, he finished with 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) and a plus-4 mark.

"You just saw as the year went on, he got comfortable and confident and you started to see exactly why he was the second overall pick," Travis Konecny said. "He's a pretty unique player, not a lot of guys like him — big body, really good hands and pretty reliable."

Sean Couturier, a player with Patrick's type of two-way, all-around game, sees the future with him.

"He's another one of the guys who's just going to take over this team eventually and lead us," Couturier said. "He's got a lot of talent. He's smart. He's really mature for his age. Just the way he plays, the way he handles himself on and off the ice."

That should only improve this offseason. And if Patrick needs any motivation, he can recall his last two summers and how it impacted the introduction of his NHL dream.

"It was a bad start for me. I wasn't doing much to help the team win," Patrick said. "I kind of turned it around as much as I could and tried to contribute as much as I could. No excuses for you guys this summer for next year's start. It's going to be a big summer for me."

German Rubtsov continues roster push, Carter Hart sharp, more from Flyers' OT preseason loss

German Rubtsov continues roster push, Carter Hart sharp, more from Flyers' OT preseason loss

BOX SCORE

The Flyers couldn't get one back against the Islanders.

Alain Vigneault's team dropped consecutive preseason games to New York after losing, 3-2, in overtime Tuesday night at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Flyers never trailed until the Islanders' OT winner.

They have five exhibition games remaining. Big names like Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen have yet to dress for the Flyers.

Let's get into some observations:

• German Rubtsov came into the action as one of the most notable roster hopefuls on Tuesday night's game roster. He has played a lot. He competed in rookie camp, scored two goals in the prospects game, performed well in Monday night's preseason opener and was back in the lineup Tuesday.

The Flyers are challenging him.

"That's one of the reasons he's playing tonight," Vigneault said after morning skate. "There are some decisions to be made and some of the things we're going to do is put some players in a tougher spot to see how they react to it."

Rubtsov once again did some positive things. During the second period, he stripped the puck in a battle along the boards and rung the post, nearly giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead. However, he lost 10 faceoffs.

But he really showed himself when he raced out of the chute with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley last season before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. He's healthy, strong and is looking more and more like an NHL center.

• Michael Raffl opened the game's scoring with a first period goal on a deflection. He and Scott Laughton were the only forwards in the lineup that played regularly for the Flyers last season.

Raffl will be a quietly reliable guy for the Flyers in 2019-20. Expect to see him on the fourth line and the penalty kill. The 30-year-old played a career-low 11:25 per game in 2018-19 and his minutes should be in that ballpark this season. Those lesser minutes are important, though, when they come on the PK and against the opposition's better lines to give the Flyers' top-six guys a blow.

• Carter Hart made his preseason debut and stopped all 14 shots he faced in 30 minutes.

He has been sharp in camp and the anticipation is there for his first full NHL season.

"For me, I'm here and I'm ready to play," Hart said last weekend. "I put in a lot of work this summer, on and off the ice. I added some muscle, added some durability and I feel really healthy in net, really strong."

Jean-Francois Berube allowed three goals in relief, including the OT winner, when he couldn't locate the puck after making the initial save.

• After a recent camp practice, Maksim Sushko spent a lot of time deflecting pucks at the net. He did about four or five rounds of redirecting shots.

The practice paid off as Sushko screened the goalie on a Chris Bigras goal in the third period. Sushko may have gotten a piece of it. Those role forwards understand that scoring chances will come from effort in limited minutes. Sushko is a 2017 fourth-round pick with speed and entering his first season with the Phantoms.

• Kurtis Gabriel got involved in the action. Flyers fans may recall the name. He's a big guy that likes to be physical and the former Devil is trying to get in the conversation for the Flyers' bottom six. Emotions boiled over between Gabriel and Ross Johnston during the second. In the third, captain Anders Lee laid a big hit on Gabriel, who was banged up and forced to leave momentarily.

Gabriel returned to the game for a short stint, but if anything lingers, it will obviously impact his roster chances with five exhibition games left.

• Bigras was signed on July 1 to a two-way deal. The 2012 second-round pick has 46 NHL games under his belt and enjoyed a career year in the AHL last season, scoring 22 points in 52 games. He had a nice game Tuesday night with two points and a plus-1 rating. The 24-year-old will be good for Lehigh Valley.

Nate Prosser, another defenseman, had an assist but was beat on the Islanders' second goal and was slow to react on New York's first goal. He played under general manager Chuck Fletcher from 2009 to 2018.

• Roster hopeful Andy Andreoff, who has shown a blend of toughness and skill in camp, was not very noticeable during his 15 minutes.

• The Flyers are off from practice Wednesday before welcoming the Bruins Thursday for the their third preseason game (7 p.m./NBCSP).

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Flyers at Islanders preseason: Storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Islanders preseason: Storylines, game time and more

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers and Islanders are back at it Tuesday night.

Alain Vigneault's team travels to New York for its second exhibition game.

Let's get into the essentials:

• When: 7 p.m. ET
• Where: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia+

• A roster hopeful to keep an eye on will be German Rubtsov. He scored two goals in the rookie game, played well Monday night and he's right back out there Tuesday night. It appears like the Flyers could test his endurance and consistency with plenty of looks during the exhibition slate after an injury-shortened 2018-19 season.

"That's one of the reasons he's playing tonight," Vigneault said. "There are some decisions to be made and some of things we're going to do is put some players in a tougher spot to see how they react to it."

Rubtsov does a lot of things that profile well for a bottom-six role.

"I liked his game," Vigneault said. "I thought we put him in penalty killing situations, I thought with his linemates he was good and I liked his pace.

"When I watched him in the rookie game, you could see the skill. … He has to continue to improve. There seems to be a lot of upside there."

• Connor Bunnaman has had an underrated camp. The 2016 fourth-round pick scored 19 goals in his first year of pro last season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. He has good size and some sneaky speed.

The 21-year-old did not play in the rookie game or the Flyers' preseason opener, so this will be our first look at him in game action.

• Many players did not partake in morning skate, so the Flyers' projected lineup is to be announced. Below is the game roster:

Forwards

Andy Andreoff
Michael Raffl
Scott Laughton
Mikhail Vorobyev
Kurtis Gabriel
Chris Stewart
German Rubtsov
Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Maksim Sushko
David Kase
Matthew Strome
Carsen Twarynski
Connor Bunnaman

Defense

Travis Sanheim
Robert Hagg
Chris Bigras
Tyler Wotherspoon
Nate Prosser
T.J. Brennan
Mark Friedman

Goalies

Carter Hart
Jean-Francois Berube

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