Flyers 3, Islanders 1 (preseason): Flyers look more like themselves at home

Flyers 3, Islanders 1 (preseason): Flyers look more like themselves at home


What a difference a day and a few more veterans make.

After a complete dud on Long Island Sunday, the Flyers dressed 10 regulars in a 3-1 win over the Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center.

Here are some observations from the Flyers’ preseason home opener Monday.

1. Earlier in the day, general manager Ron Hextall singled out Jordan Weal and Scott Laughton as the front-runners in the competition for the third-line center job. Both players were in action, with Weal having the luxury of centering Claude Giroux along with Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Weal made a real conscious effort to play a strong two-way game, winning faceoffs in the defensive zone and playing the puck below his own goal line as if he was a third defenseman.

2. Fair to say three rookies are getting a strong, hard look at making the opening-night roster. Defenseman Philippe Myers and center Mikhail Vorobyev have participated in all three games so far in the preseason, starting with the prospects game last Wednesday. That’s three games in six days for the rookies. And Aube-Kubel appears to be perfectly suited for a fourth-line role as he brings speed and a physical presence.

3. Vorobyev had an awful opening shift, losing coverage below the goal line, which nearly led to an Isles’ goal. The Flyers' center was whistled for a hooking penalty, but after that he warmed up nicely, playing with skilled linemates. He worked a perfectly executed give-and-go with Jakub Voracek to score the Flyers’ first goal of the preseason. The Flyers’ 2015 fourth-round pick is remarkably talented and if the coaching staff can trust him without the puck, especially defensively, he’s worth serious consideration as the third-line center.

4. Myers makes mistakes coughing up the puck, but with his reach and skating ability, he’s able to cover his tracks quickly. He’s a hybrid mix of Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg. In the opening period, Myers displayed impressive lateral agility with a Shaye Gostisbehere-like move in the offensive end, and he didn’t hesitate driving the opponent into the boards. With Myers, there’s very little hesitation in his game, often playing on raw instincts. Although, once the regular season starts, he’ll need to be more structured.

5. Tyrell Goulbourne is one tough cookie, but he’d probably have better luck picking on someone his own size. The 5-11, 195-pound Goulbourne elected to drop the gloves with 6-5, 235-pound tough guy Ross Johnston. Not only did Goulbourne move up in weight class, he clearly needed a few inches in reach as Johnston nailed him with some solid right hands to win the fight unanimously.

6. I expected Mike Vecchione to come into training camp and make a strong push for a job. However, midway through the second period skating with the puck along the right wall, Vecchione coughed it up. That led to the Islanders’ getting in transition and eventually scoring their first goal. Carelessness with the puck can be the quickest way back to Lehigh Valley.

7. The Flyers’ power play was clicking with the combination of Giroux, Voracek, James van Riemsdyk, Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov. JVR showed he’s not afraid to take some abuse, drawing a two-minute cross-checking penalty, which led to a 5-on-3 man advantage. Like Nolan Patrick, JVR has the hands and the size to be highly effective and completely blinded Thomas Greiss on the Flyers’ 3-0 goal. Dave Hakstol will have some big decisions on how he wants to balance out his two power-play units.  

8. Carter Hart replaced Michal Neuvirth after the Islanders scored their first goal at the midway point of the second period. Hart stopped all 11 shots he faced, nothing too spectacular. Outside of some early rebound control, Hart looked much more at ease than he did in the prospects game. His movements and positioning already look NHL-caliber, he just needs some seasoning. 

Lines and pairings

van Riemsdyk-Vorobyev-Voracek
Laughton-Corban Knight-Dale Weise
Isaac Ratcliffe-Vecchione-Goulbourne

Yegor Zamula-Mark Friedman


More on the Flyers

Gritty all over the place, funny Penguins moments as Flyers roll their rival in NHL 20

Gritty all over the place, funny Penguins moments as Flyers roll their rival in NHL 20

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, which has suspended the 2019-20 NHL season, the Flyers did not get a chance to beat the Penguins last Sunday in Philadelphia.

They did, however, dominate them on NHL 20 Thursday night as NBC Sports Philadelphia aired a simulation with the great trio of Jim Jackson, Keith Jones and Taryn Hatcher on the call.

The Flyers never trailed in beating Pittsburgh, 6-4, at the Wells Fargo Center.

Michael Raffl led the way with a pair of first-period goals. Kevin Hayes (one goal, one assist), James van Riemsdyk (one goal, one assist), Matt Niskanen (two assists), Travis Sanheim (two assists) and Nate Thompson (two assists) all had multi-point games.

Oh, and Gritty enjoyed the win. So did Claude Giroux.

Raffl's goals were massive in setting the tone during the opening 20 minutes. Despite allowing four markers, Carter Hart made a ton of timely saves, especially in the first period.

On Raffl's first goal, Penguins forward Conor Sheary got stuck right in the middle of the Flyers' celebration. Poor guy.

On Raffl's second goal, Penguins forward Evan Rodrigues tripped right over his goalie Matt Murray as the Flyers were celebrating.

A big storyline in the Flyers' win was Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin being held to no goals.

As you can see, there were some daring Penguins fans in attendance. We have a strong feeling they were welcomed kindly by Flyers fans.

Just like in real life, the Flyers were very defensive of the 21-year-old Hart. Get close to the kid, you've got problems.

Tyler Pitlick added clutch secondary scoring during the second period to give the Flyers a 3-1 edge.

Gritty, with the neck of an owl, enjoyed his view in the middle stanza.

"He's always got a good spot," Jackson said.

"He's usually got some popcorn to dump on a Penguins fan's head," Jones said.

Unfortunately, that did not happen (let's be real, it probably did).

Justin Braun, Hayes and van Riemsdyk (empty-netter) tallied goals in the final stanza to seal the Flyers' win. 

The Penguins' goals came from Brandon Tanev, Patric Hornqvist, Teddy Blueger and Marcus Pettersson.

That's not going to do it against this 2019-20 Flyers team, which has dominated in Philadelphia.

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

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

Kevin Hayes offers the quarantine goods — and misses what Flyers had cooking before 2019-20 NHL stoppage

Kevin Hayes offers the quarantine goods — and misses what Flyers had cooking before 2019-20 NHL stoppage

With the 2019-20 NHL season on pause because of the coronavirus outbreak, Kevin Hayes has returned home like most of his Flyers teammates.

Hayes is around his family in Boston. One of his three sisters is pregnant, "so she's kind of the queen of making sure everyone is doing the right things," Hayes said on a conference call Thursday.

Always upbeat and optimistic, the 27-year-old center is trying to find positives during this unexpected time for not only the hockey community, but also the entire world. 

“No matter how much anyone in the league says they miss the game, it’s a lot more important to figure out what’s going with our society right now," Hayes said.

“It’s crazy, this situation has never happened before. I miss going to the rink every day, seeing the guys, seeing the coaches, being able to go out and play against other teams and play in front of our fans.”

Some good things for Hayes during this stoppage:

He has a peloton bike and can also work out at the gym in the nearby living unit of his good friend.

He enjoyed a "hilarious" picture on Snapchat from Michael Raffl in which the 31-year-old Austrian showed off his freshly shaved head.

"We've been kind of giving it to him, but I don't think he's too concerned because he lives in Austria," Hayes said, "he's not going to see anyone for a couple of months."

And Hayes also picked up an old and new hobby.

"I became a gamer again," Hayes said. "I hadn't played Xbox in three years and now I'm slowly addicted to playing 'Call of Duty,' so that's somewhat of a positive and I started cooking for the first time in my life."

What the Flyers had cooking in his first season of a seven-year, $50 million deal, has made his new hobby bittersweet. With 13 games left on their 2019-20 schedule, the Flyers are one point behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals and hold the NHL's sixth-most points at 89. Last season, before Hayes' arrival, the Flyers endured a tumultuous year and finished with 82 points, their fewest over a full season since 2006-07.

In Year 1 with Hayes and head coach Alain Vigneault, the Flyers were rolling before the league was forced to suspend the season on March 12.

The new-look Flyers don't know if they'll be able to finish what they started.

“It sucks because you play this game, you build friendships, you build memories, you build moments where you want to go for the Stanley Cup," Hayes said. "I think our team had come together in a great way and we were really playing for one another and everyone was buying into the system that A.V. put together. And now there’s a possibility that we’ll never see the outcome of that. … I assume that we’re going to be this good all the time, but who knows if we’re going to have this feeling again.

“We were definitely feeling ourselves for a little bit, we had some good swagger, we had some good confidence. We weren’t overconfident, but I thought our leadership group set a standard. … Everyone on our team brings their own leadership into that locker room.”

Hayes has become one of the club's leaders. With time and winning, he endeared himself to the leadership group of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier.

“When I first got there, I wasn’t really nervous, I was just cognizant of how loud to be, how much to talk because I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes," Hayes said. "Giroux, Voracek, Couturier, it’s been there team for a while. … I just wanted to feel how they acted and follow their lead, but I would say it took about two weeks until they were probably annoyed with me at the beginning with how much I talked and how much I joked around, but I think they kind of liked it and I still think they like it, so I think it’s working.”

Hayes and the Flyers have something working in Philly. Even if it's on hold for now.

"People were telling me that the fans are hard and the fans are tough on you," Hayes said, "but they're just as passionate as we are.

"The fans have been through the good and the bad times with the Flyers. And hopefully good times in the future." 

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

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