Flyers

Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier wow the prospects, roster talk and more from Flyers training camp

Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier wow the prospects, roster talk and more from Flyers training camp

VOORHEES, N.J. — Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault continued to implement his systems during another upbeat, on-the-move practice for Day 2 of training camp.

"I liked both groups that came to work," Vigneault said. "The pace was good. There was no downtime." 

With that said, let's get into five observations from Saturday.

1. 'It's a different animal'

The Flyers gave prospects Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe an awfully tough challenge. In a large chunk of the 5-on-5 drills, Frost, Ratcliffe and Jakub Voracek went up against Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Joel Farabee.

Giroux and Couturier have often looked like they're on another level.

Frost and Ratcliffe haven't played a game of pro hockey yet.

I mentioned that to [assistant coach Ian Laperriere] when we were standing on the net there, I think I said, 'Those two kids are learning what the NHL pace is.'

I think for those two young men going against two elite players is a good thing. You just see the pace, you see the intensity. A couple of times, G on his backcheck stripped them of the puck. You see those guys never stop and are always moving.

- Vigneault

The Giroux-Couturier-Farabee line was with defensemen Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen. The group was dominant in the defensive zone.

"We're going up against Coots, G and Farabee," Voracek said. "It's a different animal, those three guys."

Good experience, nonetheless, for Frost and Ratcliffe.

2. Wingin' it with Hayes

Two forwards that could be in for big years are James van Riemsdyk and Oskar Lindblom.

JVR was with a new team last season, missed 16 games from Oct. 9 to Nov. 13, was slow to find his rhythm when he returned, played on different lines, for two different head coaches and still finished with 27 goals.

Lindblom saw his role fluctuate in 2018-19 and still finished sixth among NHL rookies with 17 goals.

Now you add more familiarity and — early on — a center like Kevin Hayes.

"I've liked that line, I've really liked the way Kevin Hayes has worked and sort of led his two linemates both with and without the puck," Vigneault said. "For us, we wanted to get a look at Oskar on the right side, we're probably going to try him there during exhibition. Being able to play more than one position is a bonus. I've liked that line, I've liked their work ethic and I've liked how they've competed so far."

Among the forwards, a lot can change with Nolan Patrick's injury, Travis Konecny's situation and roster battles. But van Riemsdyk, Hayes and Lindblom make up an intriguing group and we could see the trio Monday at the Wells Fargo Center.

3. Nisky and Provy

Niskanen is a steady guy.

It'll be interesting to see what level he brings at 32 years old after a Stanley Cup run in 2017-18 and a short offseason followed by a long 2018-19.

It will also be interesting to see what he can do for a player like Provorov. They've been paired together through the first two days of camp. Both can log heavy minutes and move the puck up ice. Provorov relied a lot on himself last season. Maybe Niskanen eases the burden a bit.

"Tons of experience, he's a great player," Provorov said Friday. "He's been in the league for a while, he's been on winning teams, he knows how to win."

4. Don't mark off Andreoff

Andy Andreoff might not be the most popular name for the Flyers' bottom-six competition but he's played well in camp and will be right in the conversation.

During Day 1, he had no problem being physical with Couturier and checking Provorov into the boards. He also brings some skill and scoring ability, which he showed Saturday.

The 28-year-old is on a one-way deal and scored 55 points (26 goals, 29 assists) with the AHL's Syracuse Crunch in 2018-19. Teams like depth guys with positional versatility, which Andreoff provides as he can play center or winger.

"He's a physical, competitive, team-oriented kind of guy," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Friday. "There are some different elements he brings. We will see how the preseason goes. We feel he's clearly a guy who can play."

5. A Hart blackout

Carter Hart was sharp in net Saturday as fans enjoyed watching behind the glass.

He was pretty sharp with his attire, too.


(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

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Flyers weren't kidding themselves about the process

Flyers weren't kidding themselves about the process

Maybe Alain Vigneault wanted to make a point.

That it’s not all about goals.

Philly is a results city and, ultimately, the NHL is a results business. But Vigneault firmly believes in the process behind the results. He will see past the goal tallies bolded in the box score — if the process is being grown and done right.

The Flyers’ head coach constantly refers to the process. It’s what matters most when he attempts to build a contender, especially in Year 1 with a new team.

The process, one would think, looked pretty good Monday night … right? 

Especially during a four-goal second period in which the Flyers blew open an eventual 6-2 win over the Golden Knights (see observations). After all, the Flyers had scored only four goals over their past two games, both lopsided losses.

But Vigneault had other thoughts. He wasn’t about to forget the meaning of the process. He could have easily said the goals came because the Flyers stuck to it.

He didn’t go there.

“We had some puck luck in the second, found a way to score four and got outstanding goaltending,” Vigneault said. “In my mind, that could have been our least effective period in the last eight. But we found a way to win that period, 4-0. Sometimes it works out that way.”

Found a way to score four goals? A least-effective period of four goals?

The Flyers were outshot by Vegas in the middle stanza, 18-13. Brian Elliott came up with monstrous saves as the Flyers permitted some Grade A chances to a dangerous Western Conference team. After the past two losses, the Flyers had mentioned that they expected to be on the positive end of fortunate wins, too — as in that’s hockey, teams can get outplayed and still come away with victories.

The Flyers scored only one goal in the first period Monday but outshot the Golden Knights, 15-7, and really got after them in the offensive zone. The Flyers would take that opening frame over their second period just about every time.

“We thought we played better in the games that we lost,” Michael Raffl said. “We got away from it in the second period a little bit. We’ve got to keep doing what we do and it’s going to work. At the end of the day, when you work like that and keep outshooting opponents, you’ll be on the better end of the game at the end most of the time.”

The Flyers had to practically defend themselves following back-to-back losses by a combined score of 10-4. The Flyers outshot the opposition, 91-38, but uneven defeats don’t sit well with fans, especially ones that have become accustomed to mediocre Octobers.

“Last two games, I know we didn't have the result we wanted, we lost both games, but if you really look into the game, if you understand the game, you understand that we played great games,” Claude Giroux said after morning skate Monday.

The Flyers were OK admitting that they didn’t play their best game against Vegas.

Especially Vigneault.

He’ll be honest about the process — good or bad, no matter what the final score.

“In the second period, we scored four but I really believe that in our last eight periods, it could have been our least effective as far as going north-south a little bit quick, our puck management, making the right plays at the right time,” Vigneault said. “But when we didn’t do it the right way, we got big saves and when they made a mistake in that second period, we were able to make them pay, which we hadn’t been able to do for quite some time.”

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How's that for a breakthrough? Flyers catch fire and beat Golden Knights to snap losing streak

How's that for a breakthrough? Flyers catch fire and beat Golden Knights to snap losing streak

BOX SCORE 

The Flyers felt they had dominated their last two games.

The scoreboard said otherwise.

On Monday night, the Flyers quashed the debate by ripping off five goals through the first two periods en route to an emphatic 6-2 win over the Golden Knights at the Wells Fargo Center.

The victory for the Flyers (3-3-1) put a four-game losing streak to bed as Travis Konecny, Kevin Hayes, Michael Raffl (two), Matt Niskanen and Oskar Lindblom all scored.

The Golden Knights (6-4-0) were coming off a shutout of the Penguins and their penalty kill was 33 for 35 on the season.

The Flyers impressively put up a six-spot on Vegas with two of the goals coming on the man advantage.

• Alain Vigneault’s team made a statement in the second period with four goals. Quite frankly, it needed to make a statement. Winning the shot battle is not a statement — putting up crooked numbers, though, speaks volumes.

The Flyers had scored seven combined goals through the first and second periods this season. They weren’t giving up a ton, but they weren’t capitalizing, either.

This time, the Flyers did, and against a pretty good Western Conference contender.

Now it’s a matter of producing consistently.

• Let’s not forget how good Brian Elliott was against the Golden Knights. He converted big saves, many of which came before the score turned lopsided.

After the Flyers had yielded 10 goals in their previous two games, the 34-year-old picked up 33 stops. He has 76 saves on 81 shots in three career matchups with Vegas.

He could get the next game in Chicago.

Golden Knights backup Oscar Dansk had a rough outing.

• Joel Farabee, the 14th overall pick in the 2018 draft, made his anticipated NHL debut just five games into his pro career.

Last Saturday, Farabee’s mother, grandmother and older brother traveled from Cicero, New York (right outside of Syracuse) to watch his game at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

His mother Pam was back on the road Monday with Farabee’s father Dave to watch their son’s first NHL game at the Wells Fargo Center.

Farabee, a skilled and strategic goal-scoring winger, didn’t score but exhibited his sharp reads and angles to the puck. He gives the Flyers a flashy skill in the bottom six, a type of player who can make a play out of nothing.

• There has been no slowing down Konecny and Lindblom, who have been the Flyers’ two best players. The Flyers have desperately needed some of their promising youth to take big steps. So far, so good from the 22-year-old Konecny and 23-year-old Lindblom.

Konecny has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in seven games.

For some perspective on his start, the Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau has eight points (three goals, five assists) in 10 games so far.

With his two-point effort, Lindblom has four goals and six points in seven games. Last season, he scored four goals in his first 45 games. The Flyers have put Lindblom in a position that suits him well and he’s taking advantage of it.

• The Flyers’ defensemen were strong and a combined plus-6.

• The unsung Raffl notched his first two-goal game since March 15, 2016.

• Four of the Flyers’ next five games are on the road.

To begin the stretch, the Flyers visit the Blackhawks on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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