Flyers

Alain Vigneault asked for something and has yet to get it in Flyers preseason

Alain Vigneault asked for something and has yet to get it in Flyers preseason

Alain Vigneault put out his hands as if he wanted a hug.

The head coach was speaking passionately about training camp competition.

He pleaded for one thing.

"You need surprises," Vigneault said last Saturday after Day 2 of Flyers training camp. "We need some of these young kids to step up and force us into some decisions. That's how your team gets better and we're going to give them an opportunity to do that."

Vigneault hasn't gotten any surprises … yet.

The Flyers could use them. They have a clear opening on their third line. They even have two when you factor in Nolan Patrick's injury. Tyler Pitlick, a projected bottom-six guy, is also hurt. Their defensive pairings are far from sacrosanct. 

Spots are everywhere.

But three exhibition games down, the Flyers have heard only knocks on the door.

Nobody has barged in.

"The battle for the bottom six is, in my mind, fully on," Vigneault said Thursday after morning skate. "It's good. We've got some decisions to make in those positions."

While Morgan Frost's preseason got off to a positive start in Thursday night's 3-1 loss (see observations), the 20-year-old playmaker failed to crack the score sheet playing between James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek.

Joel Farabee has impressed during camp and shown flashes in two games, but hasn't blown away the rest. Similar to Frost, Farabee played with high-end talent Thursday — Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier — and couldn't capitalize with production.

German Rubtsov looked a bit tired Thursday and justifiably so as he was playing his third game in four days. The 21-year-old center has done the little things well.

Mikhail Vorobyev, last year's preseason darling (six points in six games), has played not-so-glamorous minutes and on the penalty kill.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel had one of the better performances in the second preseason game but was quiet on the third line and second-unit power play Thursday.

Isaac Ratcliffe brought plenty of intrigue into camp but progression in the AHL will be first on his plate.

Connor Bunnaman has shown promise but seems destined for his second season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, as does Carsen Twarynski.

The older roster hopefuls haven't crushed the kids, either. Andy Andreoff has been inconsistent through two games, Chris Stewart fought in the opener and Kurtis Gabriel is hurt.

The Flyers' four preseason goals have come from van Riemsdyk, Matt Niskanen, Michael Raffl and Chris Bigras.

The remaining preseason slate will be amplified, growing in importance and starting Saturday night against the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center.

"One of the things I've found throughout the years is people say that we make the decisions, but we really don't make the decisions," Vigneault said Monday. "The players make the decisions for us by how they play, how they continue to improve.

"As camp moves forwards, competition is going to get better, it's going to get more demanding on everybody. They'll make the decisions for us by how they play, how they compete and how they perform."

Vigneault asked for surprises.

With four exhibition games left, who's going to give him one?

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers call up Morgan Frost, send Carsen Twarynski to Phantoms

Flyers call up Morgan Frost, send Carsen Twarynski to Phantoms

Updated: 3:22 p.m.

VOORHEES, N.J. — Here comes Morgan Frost.

The Flyers called up the playmaking center Monday from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley and sent Carsen Twarynski to the Phantoms.

Frost, an exciting 20-year-old prospect who the Flyers selected in the first round of the 2017 draft, had 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 16 games with Lehigh Valley.

Over his final two OHL seasons with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Frost put up 221 points (79 goals, 142 assists) and a plus-103 rating in 125 regular-season games.

He is expected to make his NHL debut Tuesday when the Flyers play the Panthers in Florida (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and will wear No. 48.

Frost received the news Sunday from Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon.

"To be completely honest with you, I was pretty surprised," Frost said Monday after Flyers practice. "I wasn’t really expecting it, I was just hanging out with [Isaac Ratcliffe] playing video games on an off day. Got that call, I saw Gordo’s name, I thought of a couple things before I answered the call. Answered it and it was a nice surprise.”

The first person he broke the news to was his dad Andy Frost.

"I FaceTimed my dad after," Frost said. "I don’t even know if he’s ever used FaceTime before. I think it was more sufficient that I FaceTimed him instead of called him.

“It was really special.”

Frost will play center, which allows Claude Giroux to play first-line left winger, where he’s had career-best success (see weekly observations). Frost will be between Giroux and Travis Konecny.

"They’re giving me an opportunity here," Frost said. "Playing with two amazing players, so I’m really excited for that.”

How long could Frost be here? His play could dictate that, but Scott Laughton (broken finger) is nearing his return from long-term injured reserve. Laughton could be back as soon as Saturday's game against the Flames.

Nonetheless, Frost is getting his first shot.

 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

Flyers weekly observations: Something to think about with Alain Vigneault's system

Flyers weekly observations: Something to think about with Alain Vigneault's system

The Flyers went to the shootout two more times this week and stomached an 0-1-2 stretch punctuated by Saturday night's brutal collapse against the Islanders.

Twenty games into the 2019-20 season and the Flyers (10-6-4) are a complex group. Despite improvements under a new coaching staff with some new personnel, they are still the tough-to-predict Flyers.

Let's get into that and more with our weekly observations:

• When head coach Alain Vigneault's system is at its apex, all four lines are making an impact. Setting up shop in the offensive zone requires constant effort. The hard-on-the-attack, get-after-it premise can be taxing, so balance through the lineup is vital.

The Flyers haven't had that and their record reflects it. So, too, does their failure to close games. It's very possible they're running out of gas in the final 20 minutes.

The sharing of ice time can also lead to a style not conducive for high-volume individual point production. When everyone is going, the minutes and scoring can spread out.

Through 20 games, the production is down for Claude Giroux (13 points), Jakub Voracek (13), James van Riemsdyk (nine) and Kevin Hayes (seven). The Flyers don't need career years from those four; that probably wasn't going to happen. But the Flyers do need them for better balance or this team will have a difficult time finding consistency in Vigneault's system.

• On top of the way the Flyers want to play, their schedule hasn't been favorable — all of which could be having a negative effect on delivering knockout punches.

After playing in four different countries from Sept. 30 through October, the Flyers are in the midst of playing 16 games during November. They've already played five back-to-back sets out of 17 this season. In the second game of such situations, the Flyers are 1-2-2 and giving up 3.8 goals per game.

The Flyers have gone to the shootout seven times compared to just four times all of last season. Suddenly the start of games isn't an issue but instead finishing them has caused concerns.

Over the Flyers' last six games, they've been outscored 7-1 in the third period. Five of those six games have gone past regulation and at least three didn't have to.

“Not knowing exactly what we had to work with, I believe that we’re a work in progress and I really believe that we have steps forward to make," Vigneault said before Saturday night's game. "We’re not where I want this team to be, we’re not where I know our team wants to be. But we’re in a good place. We’re right there with a lot of good teams battling.”

• It's obvious by his faceoff work that Sean Couturier is still dealing with a shoulder strain.

The 26-year-old is one of the NHL's best in the dot but lost 12 of 13 faceoffs taken over three games this week. Last season, Couturier had 21 games in which he won at least 12 faceoffs.

He's clearly not the same guy in the circle. However, the injury hasn't stopped him from recording 10 points (four goals, six assists) and a plus-6 mark in his last 10 games.

“I feel better and better every day," he said Tuesday. "It’s more of don’t want to get it worse, want to heal it properly, don’t want it to last all year.”

The left-handed Couturier has limited his number of faceoffs and has even tried taking them right-handed.

“It’s something he’s worked on and it’s something that is pain-free for him," Vigneault said. "He does try it now or then. If the centerman gets kicked out, he’ll go in and try to win them on the side that doesn’t hurt. I hope he’s getting close because we need him to take draws.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers