Flyers

Flyers announce winners of 2018-19 team awards

Flyers announce winners of 2018-19 team awards

Before Saturday night's 2018-19 regular-season finale, the Flyers handed out their annual team awards.

Let's look at the winners:

Sean Couturier — Bobby Clarke Trophy (Flyers MVP — selected by sportswriters and sportscasters)

It has been exciting to watch the 26-year-old Couturier turn into the Flyers' do-it-all guy. This marks his first Bobby Clarke Trophy and there's a good chance it won't be his last.

For some context of how valuable Couturier is to the Flyers: He'll finish the season first on the team in goals and faceoffs won, second in points and ice time per game, and third in shorthanded ice time, while leading Flyers forwards in blocked shots.

Radko Gudas — Barry Ashbee Trophy (Most outstanding defenseman — selected by sportswriters and sportscasters)

Before the season, nobody thought Gudas would take home this award, not with Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov coming off career years. But Gostisbehere and Provorov endured down seasons, while Gudas was steady from start to finish.

The 28-year-old entered Saturday with the team's second-best plus-minus mark (plus-8) to go along with 255 hits and 130 blocked shots.

Andrew MacDonald — Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award (Presented to the Flyer who best illustrates character, dignity and respect both on and off the ice — selected by Philadelphia chapter of PHWA)

Despite catching a lot flack from the fans, MacDonald is a classy guy and one of the most respected teammates in the Flyers' locker room. The 32-year-old is a positive influence on the young defensemen and is always respectful after wins or losses.

Travis Sanheim — Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy (Most improved — selected by teammates)

This honor could have gone to either Sanheim or Oskar Lindblom. Both were significant bright spots in a drama-filled season.

Sanheim played all 82 games during his first full NHL campaign in which he put up the second-most points among Flyers defensemen. The 2014 first-round pick came into Saturday with nine goals and 25 assists.

He just turned 23 years old and will be a promising piece to 2019-20.

Sean Couturier — Gene Hart Memorial Award (Player with the most “heart” — selected by Philadelphia Flyers Fan Club)

Couturier earned the award for the second straight season. Teammates look up to him because he takes on a ton of responsibility, doesn't complain and produces.

"I try to lead in any way I can. More by example, I should say," Couturier said after last season. "I'm not really the guy who's going to yell or talk often. I try to lead by example. Maybe show the new guys, I should say young guys, how the game should be played. Play it out by example."

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Flyers vs. Bruins preseason: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Bruins preseason: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

VOORHEES, N.J. — It might be the best chance for Morgan Frost to prove himself.

The same can be said for Joel Farabee.

The Flyers will feature two of their brightest prospects in big spots Thursday night as the team continues its preseason against the Bruins.

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

Farabee turned heads playing alongside Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier during the first three days of training camp. So much so that head coach Alain Vigneault wanted to see the trio in game action.

The 19-year-old Farabee is a dynamic winger with an advanced hockey IQ and relentless effort. His case for the roster has strengthened ever since rookie camp and Thursday presents an ideal scenario for Farabee to garner more attention.

"I'm with probably the two-best players," Farabee said, "I think this is my best opportunity to showcase what I can do."

During training camp practices, the chemistry between Giroux, Couturier and Farabee looked natural. Couturier, the Flyers' first-line center, has been impressed by the 2018 first-round pick.

The little things, the little plays he does along the boards as a winger, especially as a center coming down the middle when you have some speed, he doesn't slow you down, he knows where you are and he knows where to put the puck. You can get a good read off of him knowing that whatever situation he's put in, he'll put the puck on your tape and find you. He's looking for you, he's looking to make plays. It's pretty nice to see from a young player.

• German Rubtsov is playing his third game in the last four days. The Flyers want a long look at the 21-year-old center and, so far, they've liked what they've seen. Nolan Patrick's injury has opened the door a bit for Rubtsov, Frost and some other centers.

"From the rookie camp to now, his pace has gotten better, I liked the fact that defensively, he seems responsible," Vigneault said of Rubtsov. "Right now, if he were to make our team, it would be more on that bottom six. That's where we're putting him, you've got to be able to kill penalties, he's a centerman, take faceoffs. With Nolan being out, it gives opportunities to other guys. He's getting a good look … we're going to continue this."

• Thursday will be the first time seeing the defensive duo of Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen. It could be the Flyers' top pair for the Oct. 4 season opener. Both move the puck up ice and Niskanen's presence should relieve some pressure off of the 22-year-old Provorov's shoulders.

• Brian Elliott will be in net for the first two periods. The next step for the backup goalie will be a full game. Carter Hart will also play two periods his next time out, then a full game.

Quotable

I definitely liked his game. It was the first time for me seeing him in a game-like situation, I liked his game. Chuck [Fletcher] and Brent [Flahr] both said that's the best game they had seen him play in the sense that he kept it simple, played a north-south game, was good on the forecheck, had a good stick, defensively was responsible and he was conscious of the things that we had talked about.

- Vigneault on potential bottom-six winger Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Jakub Voracek
Nicolas Aube-Kubel-German Rubtsov-Andy Andreoff
Carsen Twarynski-Connor Bunnaman-Kyle Criscuolo

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin Braun
Tyler Wotherspoon-Philippe Myers

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Alex Lyon

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Matt Niskanen: Claude Giroux 'holds his own, for sure,' in trash-talking

Matt Niskanen: Claude Giroux 'holds his own, for sure,' in trash-talking

Matt Niskanen has played 38 career games against the Flyers, so he's seen Philadelphia a lot.

Since 2011, the 32-year-old played 390 games for the Capitals and 214 for the Penguins. Those two teams aren't liked too much around the Delaware Valley.

He was on the Capitals when bracelets were thrown on the ice by frustrated Flyers fans during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was on the Penguins during 2012, when the Flyers last won a postseason series by beating Pittsburgh in the first round.

Now, he's wearing Flyers orange with Claude Giroux and company.

Following an offseason trade from the Capitals, he's embracing the opportunity to be on the Flyers' side for a change.

I've played two playoff series against the Flyers in my career," Niskanen said last month in a sit-down interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia's Taryn Hatcher and Derek Souders. "Things have gotten a little heated, a couple wild ones, a couple wild games, too. There's been some yapping back and forth and Giroux holds his own, for sure.

I won't dive into what he has said to me in the past, but yeah we've chatted before on the ice, I'll put it that way.

Niskanen won the 2018 Stanley Cup with the Capitals and the Flyers are expecting him to impact their young defensemen. Over the past six seasons, Niskanen has averaged 22:31 minutes per game while compiling a plus-91 mark. He is a skilled puck mover, which leads to positive goal prevention.

He has 125 career postseason games on his résumé. Prior to this offseason, Giroux had played the most playoff games on the Flyers' roster with 69.

Niskanen's experience is a welcomed addition for the Flyers.

"Played in Pittsburgh, who everybody seems to hate," Niskanen said. "Washington, who has had success recently, so they've been the hunted. And now in Philly, where it's rowdy. Games get physical, they can get nasty — you never leave Philly without a couple of bruises. It's going to be fun to see all three sides of this. I think Philly missing the playoffs last year, we're going to be the ones on the hunt this year — hungry, trying to get back into the playoff picture and try to leave a mark.

"We're going to chase down those teams and we might have to knock one of them out of the playoff picture. Wouldn't that be sweet?"

For more from Niskanen on the Flyers' young blueliners, winning the Stanley Cup and his expectations, watch the "Break the Ice" video above.

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