Flyers

Alain Vigneault's take on Shayne Gostisbehere, Chuck Fletcher's line decisions, more on Flyers camp

Alain Vigneault's take on Shayne Gostisbehere, Chuck Fletcher's line decisions, more on Flyers camp

VOORHEES, N.J. — Alain Vigneault called it a "new era."

It all began Friday as 2019 Flyers training camp kicked off under the direction of the new head coach.

Vigneault's practice sessions were fast, physical and demanding.

We'll touch on that and more in five observations:

1. Focused on this Ghost

Much has been made about Shayne Gostisbehere's 2018-19 season. The production fell well short of expectations after the playmaking defenseman put up career numbers the season prior.

So what went wrong and which Gostisbehere will the Flyers get in 2019-20?

Vigneault had an excellent answer:

The beauty about being me right now is I wasn't here last year. I remember Shayne from my time in New York, him being a real tough defenseman to play against — good on the breakouts, jumping up on the play at the right time, being real effective on the play. That's my recollection. I don’t know what happened last year, don’t care. I thought today, he was intense, he had a real good pace to his practice. I am confident he's going to follow it up [Saturday].

Gostisbehere really got after it in practice. He was active and physical along the boards in defensive drills. Vigneault is a coach that wants to push and dictate tempo.

His defensemen, like Gostisbehere, can play a large role in that.

2. Now that's a first day

Chuck Fletcher was thrilled with Day 1 of camp.

The Flyers' general manager has worked in the game since 1993 and came away incredibly impressed with the meticulousness of Vigneault's staff and the pace of practice.

"This is the best first day of camp I have ever seen," Fletcher said. "The players are executing great, but the coaches are incredibly prepared. That was a great practice. There is literally 10 seconds in between drills. The players are moving, there's competition, they're moving the pucks around.

"You have three weeks of this going into the season, I think it will bode well for our ability to play at tempo and for our conditioning. Everything has a purpose."

3. New deal, same Provorov

Ivan Provorov took the ice with a new six-year, $40.5 million contract. He moved swiftly up and down the ice, while having no problem mixing it up.

Don't expect a new contract to change him.

The 22-year-old defenseman said he wasn't involved much in the contract negotiations. He trains hard in the offseason and let his agent Mark Gandler handle the business side with the Flyers, which resulted in Friday's deal.

"My job is to play hockey and be the best that I can," Provorov said.

Ultimately, he knew both sides would agree to terms before camp.

"I'm just really excited to get going," Provorov said. "Be here for six more years, try to win, get to the playoffs, go as far as possible and hopefully win the Cup."

4. 'Show what they can do'

Prized 19-year-old prospect Joel Farabee saw himself playing alongside Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, making for an exciting thought during camp.

Not bad for the first day, right?

Interestingly, Friday's combinations were not constructed by Vigneault. The head coach asked Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr to put them together because Vigneault wants to first gain a better grasp of the youth.

Fletcher and Flahr believed talent with talent worked best early on — and who would say no to that? Not only did Farabee complement the team's two-best players, but other top prospects Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe lined up with Jakub Voracek.

"These are good young players, we may as well play them with good players and give them a chance to show what they can do," Fletcher said. "I don't know what it means for the season or the short term, but these guys are very important parts of our future and we want to give them a chance to show what they can do, gain some confidence, get that experience.

"Any chance you get to practice with Giroux or Couturier or Voracek when you're a young, skilled player, that's a great opportunity to watch and learn, be a part of it and hopefully feel good about yourself. There is no sense putting them with checkers, let's be honest — let's give them a chance to show what they can do."

5. No longer in rookie camp

This was just one play in one drill but it caught my eye.

Kurtis Gabriel is a 6-foot-4, 200-pound winger. He's a role forward not known for his offense, but here he simply outmuscles the 6-foot, 180-pound Frost en route to the net for a goal.

You can see how much of a different level the NHL is when it comes to size and speed.

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Travis Konecny sets new career high as Flyers beat Blue Jackets to climb in NHL playoff race

Travis Konecny sets new career high as Flyers beat Blue Jackets to climb in NHL playoff race

BOX SCORE

The Flyers picked up a huge win in their playoff push with a 5-1 decision Tuesday night over the Blue Jackets at the Wells Fargo Center.

Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Philippe Myers, Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek all scored goals for the Flyers (33-20-7), who notched their 20th home win of 2019-20. They won only 19 games in Philly last season.

More impressively, the Flyers improved to 7-0-2 against the Capitals, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. In 2018-19, they were 0-10-2 against those divisional foes.

Major improvements.

The Flyers also rebounded from another defeat as they haven't dropped consecutive outings since Jan. 4-7. In games after their last seven losses, the Flyers are 7-0-0 and have outscored the opposition 36-16.

The Blue Jackets (30-19-12) have allowed 15 goals to the Flyers through three matchups.

• Big, big win for the Flyers.

They’ve now jumped the Blue Jackets and Islanders to take over third place in the Metropolitan Division, although New York has two games in hand on the Flyers.

One of the more noticeable aspects of this win was the contributions from players who were not here in 2018-19. Hayes got things started, Myers (played only 21 games last season) was strong, Joel Farabee added two assists and Nicolas Aube-Kubel was reliable yet again.

• Thanks to a goal and two assists, Konecny set a new career high in points as he now has 51.

There are 22 games left in the Flyers’ season and the 22-year-old forward has already delivered in the first year of his six-year, $33 million deal.

• An impressive franchise record for captain Claude Giroux.

• Carter Hart improved to 15-2-2 with a 1.62 goals-against average at home.

Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins, who came in leading the NHL with five shutouts, was pulled during the third period after allowing four goals on 12 shots.

• During the second period, everyone saw why there’s so much potential and excitement behind the Travis Sanheim-Myers defensive pairing.

Some serious size, skating and skill — and both are only 23 years old.

• The Flyers’ 200-foot forces set the tone.

During the first period, Hayes and Couturier jumped on the Blue Jackets, who were allowing the NHL's second-fewest goals per game at 2.45.

From a crazy angle, Hayes scored his 18th goal of the season. The 27-year-old center has a great chance to break his career high of 25 goals set in 2017-18.

Couturier might finish the season as the Flyers’ leading scorer. He has 48 points and a plus-27 rating over his last 50 games.

• The Flyers fly to Columbus Wednesday afternoon ahead of another matchup with the Blue Jackets Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

The Flyers then play three straight games at home against teams not in playoff position — Jets on Saturday (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP), Sharks next Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Rangers next Friday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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NHL trade rumors: Jeff Carter, Flyers buzz is picking back up

NHL trade rumors: Jeff Carter, Flyers buzz is picking back up

The Jeff Carter-Flyers buzz is back.

It started humming in January when Carter and the Kings visited the Flyers. It picked back up Tuesday with the latest 31 Thoughts article from Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, always a must-read.

Per Friedman:

It might come down to Nolan Patrick’s health, but I think Philadelphia is considering Jeff Carter.

That would not be terribly surprising, as we noted in January. The Kings are at the bottom of the Western Conference and selling with Monday's NHL trade deadline on the horizon. As they retool, being open to moving an older player like Carter would make sense. The 35-year-old has a cap hit of $5,272,727, according to CapFriendly.com, and is under contract for 2020-21 and 2021-22.

That is most significant as it relates to the possibility of the Flyers adding Carter for their playoff push. The Flyers have just over $2 million in cap space. Even with Los Angeles retaining 50 percent of Carter's cap hit, the Flyers would have to do some juggling. And then the fact that Carter has two more years left on his deal might make things less appealing for the Flyers.

However, there are reasons why the Flyers are probably peeking in at Carter's availability. The center is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, four-time 30-plus goal-scorer and understands the pressure of playing in Philly. Returning to the city during a playoff race would only rejuvenate Carter, who could help the Flyers' depth down the middle and be a positive influence on the team's younger bottom-six forwards. Not to mention the former Flyer has 17 goals this season and is projected to finish with 24.

The Flyers could interest the Kings with a prospect and/or a draft pick. But what would they be willing to give up from a prospect pool that will build the future? And how do they make it work for the roster moving forward?

Those are big questions for a 35-year-old center with a big contract.

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