Flyers

Debating Flyers' biggest positive from 2019-20 training camp, preseason

Debating Flyers' biggest positive from 2019-20 training camp, preseason

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall.

The topic: After touching on the disappointments, who was the Flyers' biggest positive during training camp and the preseason?

Destra

He has been an underdog for most of his career, but not anymore. Heading into this training camp, it seemed like many forgot this prospect made it to the final cut in 2018-19 before coming up just a tad short. But this time around, Carsen Twarynski made sure to hit the ground running (or should I say hit the ice skating) and put his name on everyone’s radar for 2019-20.

With the game constantly advancing, teams can no longer play and succeed with having only two solid lines that can produce. Every line needs to contribute, every player. Twarynski has the capability to solidify the bottom half of the roster. And the best part is? He hasn’t even reached his fullest potential yet.

Twarynski netted two goals, tying him for most scored in the preseason on the Flyers. But something stood out with his play on every shift he took — his refusal to quit.

The 21-year-old decided to stay in the area during the offseason, training in Voorhees, New Jersey. It may seem like a cliché — but hard work truly does pay off.

Emmer

From the first day the orange and black hit the ice for training camp in Voorhees, New Jersey, Joel Farabee made a name for himself on the Flyers’ roster. 

He was put to the test on Day 1, filling in on the first line for a then contract-less Travis Konecny, and as the preseason games began, his role continued to grow.

“He’s a real smart player,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said last week. “For a 19-year-old player, I think he’s ahead of the curve with a respect to awareness of the game away from the puck, his defensive understanding of the game.”

Though he never played lower than the third line in five preseason games and didn’t make it on the score sheet once, that “awareness of the game away from the puck” still impressed head coach Alain Vigneault. 

“If he's not in the lineup that first game, it would be a surprise,” Vigneault said last Thursday. “He's played extremely well. In my mind, if we would start tomorrow, he would probably be in our lineup.”

He turned heads in the preseason, but was it enough? As the regular season begins Friday, the major question is when will he fit into the Flyers' lineup?

“He’s obviously a highly competitive kid,” Fletcher said last week. “Very intelligent kid. But it’s a tough league for a 19-year old player. What we do with Joel will be what’s right for the team, but also what’s right for him in the long run.”

Regardless of what happens before the opener, Farabee has a future with the Flyers, whether it’s now or later.

Hall

A bit of an outside-the-box pick: Justin Braun.

Before his arrival, we didn’t know much about the 6-foot-2, 205-pound defenseman because he played out on the West Coast in San Jose, where Brent Burns has long been the man along the blue line.

However, there’s a reason why Braun played nine years for the Sharks, has put up 20:43 minutes per game over the past six seasons to go with a plus-32 rating and sports 84 career playoff appearances on his résumé.

He understands defense and the intricacies of goal prevention.

"If you want to end plays in this league, you've got to have a good stick and then you've got to get body,” Braun said on Day 1 of training camp. “If you're soft out there, you're going to be in your D-zone all night. You've got to end those plays quick and try to get it going north, otherwise you're going to have a long night. Every shift I try to do that so I don't have to spend too much time in my D-zone."

San Jose has been one of the NHL’s top teams since the 2015-16 season, when it went to the Stanley Cup Final.

“Harped on gap all the time — like, we didn't want guys crossing the blue line with the puck,” Braun said. “We wanted them to dump it, get it back, turn it over.”

The 32-year-old is an underrated upgrade for the Flyers’ defense.

"Braun isn’t going to win any contests for artistic merit on the ice, but he competes and he has a great stick," Fletcher said on Day 1 of training camp. "I went back and watched 20 games of clips just the other day again, he is unbelievable stick on puck. He is hard to play against. It's like seaweed, he's out there, there's arms and he’s battling and pushing you and poke-checking and he brings a real veteran savvy to the defensive part of the game."

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With newcomers, Flyers keep on humming in NHL playoff race, have Penguins in their sights

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BOX SCORE

A day after the NHL trade deadline, the Flyers showed off their new look and didn't miss a beat.

With reinforcements Derek Grant and Nate Thompson, the Flyers defeated the Sharks, 4-2, Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers (36-20-7) have won four straight games, their longest win streak since Dec. 17-23, when they also won four in a row.

Not many in the league have been better than the Flyers over their last 20 games. The Flyers are 14-5-1 with an NHL-high 72 goals since Jan. 8. Over that stretch, only one club has more points than the Flyers' 29 — the Lightning with 31.

The Sharks (26-33-4), who have a number of injuries and traded away Barclay Goodrow and Patrick Marleau before Monday's deadline, have lost five straight.

• Good work by the Flyers handling a lesser opponent.

Tuesday was a big night in the playoff race as the Islanders, Blue Jackets and Hurricanes were all in action

The Flyers are still in third place of the Metropolitan Division and climbed to within one point of the second-place Penguins.

• The new line of Scott Laughton, Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny sure was fun to watch.

During the second period, Hayes and Konecny scored goals to help the Flyers restore order with a 3-1 lead at intermission.

Hayes tacked on another in the third period, giving him 21 markers this season. The 27-year-old is projected to break his career high of 25 set in 2017-18 and he might flirt with 30.

On Hayes' first goal, the 6-foot-5 center used his impressive reach to snag Laughton's pass and bury the shot. The Flyers are 17-0-1 when Hayes scores a goal.

Meanwhile, Konecny finished with his third three-point effort over the last four games. He had two three-point games over his first three NHL seasons.

Laughton continued his always reliable play with two assists and a plus-3 mark.

• Grant and Thompson, both acquired by the Flyers Monday, were eased into duty.

Both went scoreless as Grant committed a penalty and was solid in the faceoff circle, while Thompson centered the fourth line.

Here's how they're getting acclimated (see story).

• At home, Carter Hart has been an absolute nightmare for opponents.

With 26 saves, he improved his home mark to 17-2-2.

The 21-year-old has yielded two or fewer goals in 17 of his 21 home games. He is a must-see ticket in Philly.

• Defensemen Matt Niskanen and Travis Sanheim made clutch third-period plays to break up juicy scoring chances for the Sharks.

• Nicolas Aube-Kubel has six goals this season. He has turned into one of the biggest surprises since his mid-December call-up.

Last season, he went scoreless over nine outings, playing just 5:35 minutes per game.

• A beautiful job by the Flyers.

• The Flyers are off Wednesday and practice Thursday at 11:30 a.m. in Voorhees, New Jersey, before hosting the Rangers Friday night (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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Don't like the Phillie Phanatic's new look? Gritty has a message for you

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When Gritty and the Phillie Phanatic met in September 2018 at Citizens Bank Park, a special bond was born.

With his best friend from across the street under the microscope for his new look, Gritty stepped up Tuesday night in defense of the Phanatic.

During the first period of the Flyers-Sharks game at the Wells Fargo Center, Gritty had a message for anyone out there not in support of the Phanatic's fresh style.

This is what best friends do.

Good for Gritty. The Phanatic would do the same for the orange fella.

Both will be reunited at the ballyard soon.

Look out.

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