Flyers development camp: 5 observations from 5-on-5 scrimmage

Zack Hill, Len Redkoles/Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers development camp: 5 observations from 5-on-5 scrimmage

VOORHEES, N.J. — Flyers Skate Zone featured a full house Saturday night as 2019 development camp culminated with a 5-on-5 scrimmage.

Fans packed the practice facility and Gritty even checked out the team's future by making an appearance.

Team Orange notched a 3-2 win over Team White in a fun, up-and-down game.

Let's get into five observations from the night:

1. Center of attention

German Rubtsov looks the part. 

From a physical standpoint, many of the prospects in camp still looked like kids, but Rubtsov did not. He is filled out and stands like an NHL center. He also plays like one with his hockey IQ and how he commands the pace.

The 2016 first-round pick stood out in all aspects, from positioning to using his body to make plays under control in a game that understandably had a frenetic style at times.

"He looks good," Flyers player development coach Kjell Samuelsson said. "He's healthy, he's fit and he can play."

He's on the Flyers' radar (see story).

2. That's some line

Team Orange sported a first line of Isaac Ratcliffe, Morgan Frost and Bobby Brink.

Not bad, right?

This year, Ratcliffe scored 50 goals, Frost had 109 points and Brink became a second-round pick.

The group was impressive Saturday. Ratcliffe scored a goal and Brink netted the game-winner. On Brink's goal, Ratcliffe started the play with a nice reverse pass in transition. Frost had an assist and created a ton of chances, to no surprise.

Ratcliffe and Frost were a part of the same 2017 draft class and have become great friends.

"That's really been a goal since draft day," Ratcliffe said of playing alongside Frost. "That was the first time I met Morgan, too, went up to the box there at the draft after the second round earlier in the day. That was the first time we said hi together. We kind of laughed about playing together one day on a line for the Flyers. To get a first taste of it today was pretty exciting and fun."

After the game, each player on both teams had the opportunity to take a shootout shot.

Frost wowed everyone with this:

He really likes that move.

3. There goes that Cam

Cam York is a smooth and dynamic skater. Just with his size, mobility and puck-handling, he sort of reminds you of Shayne Gostisbehere. York is 5-foot-11, 174 pounds, while Gostisbehere is 5-foot-11, 180 pounds.

Moving the puck means better possession and playing less defense.

At one point during the first of the two periods, York carried the puck into the offensive zone and kept it on his stick as he surveyed his options. If you didn't know, you'd think he was a forward on that play.

"Mobile defensemen," Samuelsson said, "that's today's hockey."

4. Seventh-round sleeper

Keep an eye on Wyatt Kalynuk in 2019-20. He'll be a captain on a talented Wisconsin team that is adding 2019 top-15 draft picks Alex Turcotte and Cole Caufield.

Kalynuk is an excellent skater with good size (6-1/181).

He's come a long way since being taken in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. After 25 points in 37 games as a sophomore, he appears primed for a breakout junior season with the Badgers.

5. King Felix

Felix Sandstrom was impressive all camp, in the 3-on-3 tournament and the 5-on-5 scrimmage.

The 2015 third-round pick is 22 years old and put up a 2.16 goals-against average this past season playing against men in the Swedish Elite League.

He'll be with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley in 2019-20. You never know, he may be needed sooner rather than later with the Flyers to help Carter Hart and company.

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Flyers' Carter Hart, Union provide heartwarming night with McCabe family

Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers' Carter Hart, Union provide heartwarming night with McCabe family

Carter Hart made plenty of big saves Wednesday night as he stopped 35 shots in the Flyers' 2-1 shootout loss to the NHL-leading Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center.

Thanks to an awesome drawing, the beautiful memory of Lucy McCabe and the 21-year-old goalie, his most meaningful moment Wednesday night came after the game.

Through the Union's "Kick Childhood Cancer" initiative, Hart was connected with 6-year-old Molly McCabe, who lost her 3-year-old sister Lucy to cancer on Sept. 17.

Hart and the Flyers invited the McCabe family to Wednesday night's game. They all met and spent time together afterward.

It was just nice to go and say hi after the game," Hart said Thursday, via Flyers senior director of public relations and communications Zack Hill. "It wasn’t the result we wanted in the game, but you know what, it was the daughter’s first NHL game, she went to her first hockey game, and she was very happy and smiling after. I mean, that’s what it’s about. You go in there after the game, you see them and how happy she is, how happy the family was to meet myself and then come in the locker room after — that just puts a smile on my face and I’m very happy to do that.

What an amazing job by everyone.

For more on the night, story and initiative, follow below:

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

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Why Flyers' shootout loss to Capitals was a major positive

Why Flyers' shootout loss to Capitals was a major positive

The Flyers missed out on a few accomplishments that could have been proudly placed in their back pocket as they left the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night.

A victory over the Capitals would have given the Flyers their longest winning streak (five games) in the opening two months of a season since 2010-11, when the club won six straight games from Oct. 26 to Nov. 6.

A win would have also improved the Flyers’ home record to 7-1-1, which would have marked the team’s best start on home ice since 2005-06, when it went 9-1-0.

Alas, the Flyers had to settle for a 2-1 shootout loss to Washington (see observations).

That result holds far greater meaning in the grand scheme of the 2019-20 season than some historical feats among past franchise teams. This season, the Flyers are aiming for a jump back into contention and relevancy among the NHL’s better clubs.

They want to show everyone they are not the 2018-19 team that fell well short of expectations and finished with 82 points, the organization’s fewest in a full season since 2006-07. The demoralization of last season is why Alain Vigneault is in Philadelphia this season, leading the charge of making this Flyers team different.

Wednesday represented an eye-opening indicator of how things have changed.

In 2018-19, the Flyers were manhandled by the Capitals, losing all four meetings to the tune of an 18-9 margin. The Flyers allowed Washington to put up 4.50 goals per game in the matchups. As shown by the outcomes, the Capitals had their way.

“For me, it’s a new season,” Vigneault said Thursday. “I’m new here, my staff is new, players are new to us. I’m really not interested or focused on what has happened in the past.

“It was about us going out last night, going out and trying to win a game against the best team at this time in the league. I thought our start wasn’t real good because we were a step behind and a second behind in making the plays that we needed to defensively. Got better in the second, got better in the third and we made a game out of it and were able to come back and get a point."

Entering Wednesday, the Capitals were still the Capitals. They were leading the NHL with 30 points, were scoring a league-high four goals per game, were on a 12-game point streak and were 8-1-1 on the road.

They came rolling into the Wells Fargo Center and the Flyers held them to one goal through three periods and overtime. Washington had scored three or more goals in 16 straight games before the Flyers limited it to one in 65 minutes.

“Give them credit, I mean they came out hard and they proved in that first period there’s a reason why they’re first in the league right now,” Vigneault said Wednesday. “Their execution and their speed were very challenging. In the second period, we got better, made better decisions as far as giving them a little bit less space and time. We were able to make a couple plays with the puck and, in the third, we found a way to even it up.”

Over their last three games, the Flyers took five out of a possible six points and allowed only five goals against the Capitals, Bruins and Maple Leafs, who are a combined 34-12-12. Last season, the Flyers went a combined 3-7-0 against those three clubs and were outscored 43-27.

The Flyers are clearly a better team this season compared to last. 

They have proven that with hard evidence.

How much better compared to the rest of the league is a question to be answered when the games become bigger and the playoff race has truly begun.

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