Flyers

End to End: What is Flyers' biggest training camp storyline?

End to End: What is Flyers' biggest training camp storyline?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Boruk, Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall.

The topic: What is the biggest training camp storyline?

Boruk
Looking back at the 2017-18 preseason, much of the anticipation surrounded the three-way prospect battle among the young, talented defensemen of Robert Hagg, Samuel Morin and Travis Sanheim.

I don’t see a similar roster battle brewing as we inch closer to September. I expect some of the Phantoms forwards to make a strong push to make the team, but their role (if they make the team) will likely be as a fourth-line player.

So the anticipation surrounds the goaltenders, and the most commonly asked question I’ve been receiving is when will Carter Hart will be ready? The answer to which all depends on Hart himself and the preseason will serve as an early-season litmus test.

Let’s keep in mind it’s also a very important season in the careers of Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, both in contract years and both looking to overcome injury-plagued seasons that rendered them not close to ready when the playoffs started. Elliott is the presumed No. 1, but when healthy and confident, Neuvirth is capable of making a serious push for playing time. 

If either Elliott or Neuvirth goes down with another injury, who steps in and fills that void and where is Anthony Stolarz in his progression? All of which makes for another intriguing (and yet redundant) storyline in the world of Flyers goaltending.

Dougherty
This is pretty simple.

Who is the third-line center?

The Flyers do not have a clear-cut favorite for their third-line center vacancy. Scott Laughton may have the inside track, but we can't rule out the team's prospects or even Claude Giroux returning to the middle. It will be the most intriguing camp battle this year.

We can move forward believing that moving Giroux back to center is the Flyers' last resort. It's an option, sure, but not the plan. My bet is that Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is betting on either Laughton or a prospect to prove they can take the reins.

But if Laughton doesn't show he can handle a more offensively-dependent role and none of the kids are ready, then moving Giroux back to center could be in the cards.

Much like the defensive position battle last September, the third-line center will have a few prospects attempting to show Hextall they're ready for The Show.

I'm going out on a limb and saying Morgan Frost will do just that — force his way onto the NHL roster.

Hall
How about Dave Hakstol's personnel decisions within the power play and top six?

I'm most intrigued to see how those shake out during camp and preseason action because the outcomes won't come easily.

These are good problems, though. With the addition of James van Riemsdyk, the Flyers' depth was bolstered, giving Hakstol and company much more to work with in 2018-19.

Does van Riemsdyk, who has developed a net-front prowess, jump right onto the first power-play unit? Or does Wayne Simmonds, coming off a wide range of injuries and eyeing a new contract, take back that role? Or is Nolan Patrick the sleeper to stick there after showing his skills in deep during the stretch run last season?

It will be fascinating to see how Hakstol experiments early, not only with the man advantage but also piecing together his top six, which is much more loaded.

People love to analyze the coach's decisions. It'll only pick up come September.

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Need breakfast tips? Flyers goalie Carter Hart has a healthy one

Need breakfast tips? Flyers goalie Carter Hart has a healthy one

Carter Hart just turned 21 years old last month.

He's a growing kid.

Just ask him about the summer.

"I was eating breakfast, a full meal, coming home after a workout, eating another full meal, going and skating, coming home and eating another full meal, then eating dinner," Hart said with a laugh Friday. "I was pretty hungry a lot. I don't know what came over me."

Hart prides himself on preparation. His maturity belies his age.

"He takes care of every aspect — his rest, his eats, his diet, his off-ice workouts," Hart's junior hockey general manager Garry Davidson said in May 2018. "That's Carter."

Hart was listed at 180 pounds last training camp and is up to 191 this preseason.

"I put in a lot of work this summer, on and off the ice," Hart said. "I added some muscle, added some durability and I feel really healthy in net, really strong."

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? 

So how does the Flyers' prized goalie of the future start his day?

"I just eat toast with cashew butter and a slice of a banana on it with a smoothie," Hart said.

That's quite the change from his previous go-to morning meal. While playing junior hockey with the WHL's Everett Silvertips, Hart enjoyed a classic breakfast courtesy of his billet Parker Fowlds.

Do you remember the combo I ate at the world juniors like two years ago when I told the guy I had three eggs, two pieces of toast and a glass of chocolate milk every single day that my billet Parker made for me in Everett?

Now I'm just making toast, cashew butter with banana. I actually stopped eating eggs because I found out that there's so much bacteria in eggs that it can upset your stomach. I kind of stayed away from eggs and I found out that I'm lactose intolerant, too, so I don't eat eggs and I don't eat dairy anymore. I feel 100 times better.

Hart doesn't mind cooking.

"More so during the season," he said, "when we have days off." 

But if that NHL schedule gets crazy …

"When we play three in fours, that one day off in between, I'm definitely not cooking," Hart said with a smile. "Definitely ordering Uber Eats or takeout."

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Among Flyers prospects, Carsen Twarynski is making everyone know his name

Among Flyers prospects, Carsen Twarynski is making everyone know his name

Alain Vigneault has been tasked with watching a lot of new players in a condensed period of time.

Flyers training camp opened with 63 players on the roster. Understandably, Vigneault is still learning about his players four games into the preseason.

Prior to Saturday night's exhibition contest, the Flyers' head coach innocuously had trouble pronouncing Carsen Twarynski's name as he rattled off the lineup in his pregame media availability.

Following the game, he said it perfectly.

"For me, the best player on the ice was Twarynski," Vigneault said after the Flyers' 4-1 win over the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations). "He played a solid game at both ends, good on the forecheck, made some good decisions. There's no doubt the young man is making a strong case for himself."

Best player on the ice, on a night when the Flyers dressed forwards Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Kevin Hayes, James van Riemsdyk and Travis Konecny. The Flyers played a majority of their regulars at all positions.

Twarynski is a prospect and not the Flyers' most touted one, either. He doesn't care and nor do the Flyers, who are clearly considering the 21-year-old winger for their bottom-six vacancies.

Twarynski scored an impressive goal on sheer effort in the Flyers' win. He played just 11:44 but led the Flyers with seven shots and also had three hits.

"When I'm going fast, it's when I'm doing my best," Twarynski said. "As long as I'm moving my feet and playing with guys that understand that and play the same way, it's going to work well and it's going to click well and I think that's what you guys saw tonight."

The 6-foot-2, 206-pounder plays a bottom-six style and understands what the Flyers need. He has earned himself another preseason game. If he plays well again, he'll be right in the conversation for the season-opening roster.

"I've got to outwork [opponents], I'm trying to earn a spot here," Twarynski said. "I'm not a flashy player by any means and I know the spot that I'm battling for. I've got to work hard, that's what I've done my whole life and that's what I'm going to keep on doing.

"I've been through a lot of adversity though my hockey career. Growing up, wasn't on any national teams or Alberta teams or provincial teams. I've always had to work my way up through the first year and develop and make a step to the big league the next year. It's nothing new to me, I've just got to keep on going, keep working hard."

While the 2016 third-round pick got on the score sheet, Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost did not. The two prospects continued to show their skill and playmaking abilities but have not put up points. The Flyers certainly wouldn't mind seeing production — it's what can force the hand of the front office and coaching staff. If Farabee and Frost are scoring, it's harder to keep them off the roster.

"I don't think we're at that decision-making point," Vigneault said. "We still have a few games before we leave for Europe. But those two young men, you can tell there's a tremendous amount of potential and upside, smarts to their game. We have a lot to work with there. It's just a matter of doing what's right for the team and that's what we're going to do here when we make the final decisions.

"Just for feeling good about yourself and confidence-wise, it would be great to see them [score]. They're getting so many looks. You always say as long as the chances are there, sooner or later it's going to pay off. I'm hoping for those young men that it is because there's no doubt that they're playing well."

But the best player on the ice Saturday night was Twarynski.

His head coach didn't have trouble seeing or saying that.

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