VOORHEES, N.J. — Let the games begin.
The Flyers on Sunday finished up their third consecutive practice of training camp leading into Monday night's preseason opener against the Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./NBCSP).
During the first two days of camp, head coach Alain Vigneault really pushed the tempo. The team studies the drills before hitting the ice, so when one drill finishes, the next begins at a bang-bang pace. On Day 3, Vigneault pulled back the reins because the Flyers begin a stretch of four exhibition games in six days.
Vigneault and the team's training staff study the data.
"I do the pace, I do the practice, but I also use the science," Vigneault said. "Our guys right now, as we're practicing, are monitored by our strength coach and I know the different loads that we're attaining.
"The first two days, the loads were very high, more than a game's worth. Today, I tapered down a little bit, I shortened practice up a little bit. Because these guys are playing [Monday], I want them to have energy. I follow the science.
"I was fortunate enough that I when I went to New York, we had sort of the same basis. I got here and they had the same formula for loads, lengths and intensity of practice. I'm able to use that and monitor that real well."
Let's get into five observations:
1. Patrick? Present!
Nolan Patrick missed the first three days of training camp with an upper-body injury. He's considered week to week but it's uncertain when he'll return to practice or if he'll be ready for the regular season.
Patrick, however, has been skating and getting in work before the Flyers take the ice, which the 20-year-old center did again Sunday morning.
It's never good to miss the beginning of camp or preseason, especially when there's a new head coach implementing systematic changes and competition is ripe for spots.
But Vigneault said Patrick has been very involved, essentially doing everything he can without actually practicing.
"It's unfortunate, but at the same time, he's in all the meetings, he's doing extra on the ice with our skill coach," Vigneault said. "Hopefully this upper-body injury will leave and he'll be back with us. But I think the fact that he's here and he's capable to see the video that we're showing and he knows all the drills that we're doing, he is behind, but he is not as far behind as someone that's not physically here at this time."
Another message to Travis Konecny?
2. Lineup stuff
Here's how the Flyers' forwards will look Monday night:
James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Jakub Voracek
Isaac Ratcliffe-Morgan Frost-Joel Farabee
Oskar Lindblom-German Rubtsov-Chris Stewart
Kyle Criscuolo-Mikhail Vorobyev-Maksim Sushko
The Flyers' top line could be the second unit in the season opener. It has size mixed with skill and playmaking. Hayes (6-5/216) and van Riemsdyk (6-3/212) were with each throughout the first three days of camp, while Voracek (6-2/217) joined them Sunday.
"You've got three guys with great puck protection skills, three guys that have got some good speed," Vigneault said. "Some might say that JVR is not the quickest, I would say to you he skates a lot better than people think.
"Once they're in the offensive zone and they have the puck, it's going to be tough for the other team to get it back. I'm really anxious to see how those three are going to do together."
The Flyers' three top prospects are also back together. The trio was impressive during rookie camp and the prospects game.
Shayne Gostisbehere, Justin Braun, Philippe Myers and Samuel Morin are the notable defensemen suiting up Monday. Brian Elliott will start the game in net and be relieved by Alex Lyon.
Vigneault doesn't expect to play Claude Giroux or Sean Couturier in Tuesday's second preseason game, either.
So what will happen with the Giroux-Couturier-Farabee dream line that has had everyone abuzz?
"There's a definite strong possibility after [Tuesday], we will see that young man with those two players," Vigneault said. "They had a real good first couple of days. We decided with management that this is the group we want to go with [Monday]. Then they'll watch the game and probably make other decisions for the next day."
It's good to hear those three will likely get a game together. They were that good during the first two days of camp and the Flyers need to get the best read they can on Farabee during the exhibition slate. Playing him with talent will help.
4. The Konecny situation
The Konecny hiatus will now linger into the preseason schedule. And even if Konecny and the Flyers agree to a contract sometime this week, it would be difficult to throw him into a preseason game with little to no practice.
Which means the 22-year-old could very well miss more than half the preseason given the Flyers play four of their seven exhibition games this upcoming week.
Hard to believe.
With the unknown surrounding Patrick and Konecny, those are two first-round picks, two young forwards that can legitimately make or break the team's depth in 2019-20.
The Flyers, prone to slow starts in years past, are already facing some challenges.
5. That's nuts
Moments after a drill, Carter Hart went down on one knee and was shaken up.
The beloved 21-year-old goalie didn't miss any drills and was able to finish practice.
"I got it right in the nuts," Hart said. "It didn't feel very good."
"I thought maybe they crawled up into my stomach after that," he said.
At least he's OK.
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