Flyers

Flyers prospect Philippe Myers heating up

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Zack Hill/Flyers

Flyers prospect Philippe Myers heating up

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — It’s been 13 months since Philippe Myers felt this good about his game. 

It’s been that long since he took a nasty hit from Luke Kunin behind the net in Canada’s quarterfinal matchup against the United States at the 2017 World Junior Championships. It was also at that tournament where TSN analyst Bob McKenzie tweeted Myers looked “NHL ready, or close to it.” Not long afterward, former NHL executive and current analyst Craig Button listed Myers as a top 10 prospect currently not playing in the NHL.

Incredibly high praise for the 6-foot-5 defenseman who wasn’t drafted as an 18-year-old while playing with Rouyn-Noranda in the QJMHL and eventually signed as a free agent with the Flyers in September 2015.

His first professional season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing, though. Like Samuel Morin, Myers has been dealing with a nagging groin injury that has forced him to miss 17 AHL games so far.    

“The first half of the season wasn’t the half that I wanted,” Myers said. “I was hurt for the first couple of games. I missed about half of them. Lately, my groin’s been strengthening up and I feel a lot stronger and more stable on the ice.

“I feel like I can move a lot better, and that’s huge. Skating is a big part of hockey. I’ve just been feeling myself, getting to the stuff that I was doing last year and regaining those good habits. I felt like myself on the ice a couple weeks ago for the first time this year. I felt comfortable moving. I wasn’t feeling any pain at all.”

Myers' feeling of immobility prevented him from being a complete all-around player, so his attention was squarely focused on positional play in the defensive zone and winning one-on-one battles that are essential to developing into an NHL-caliber defenseman. 

In 28 games with the Phantoms this season, Myers has contributed three goals and nine assists. This after a three-year junior career that saw him score 29 goals and record 63 assists for 92 points.

“I’ve been trying to chip in offensively when I can, but obviously we have a defensive-first mindset here,” Myers said. “Good offense starts with good defense. You got to take care of your own end before you can join in on the rush.

“You just got to seize the opportunity, and when the opportunity is there you just gotta go. And if it’s not there, you don’t go. Not trying to force things — that’s something I’ve had to work on throughout the year and I think I’ve done a pretty good job at it, and now I just got to keep at it and keep the little details going.”

Organizationally, the Flyers' philosophy with their defensemen is comparable to rings around a tree. The outside arc is solidifying the basics, and as their respective games adapt to the speed of the AHL, that circle shrinks and they can start working on the finer details. Impressively, despite his injuries, Myers is considered to be on the same track as Travis Sanheim was a year ago when his game started to take off with the Phantoms.   

“There’s a process where you take care of the big things first and with all of our D, it’s about the ice surface first,” Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon said. “It's about not complicating your life on the breakout and making that first early pass when it's there. Now it's about the positional play, it’s about the defending part of it, the abrasiveness at the net front. Good stick, the positioning of the stick. The little details come over time. You can’t have everything all at once. It’s just information overload.

“When you consider the last three to four weeks, Philippe has played some of his best hockey. But he’s done it in half the time because he’s missed half the amount of games and half the amount of practices. You wonder where he’d be right now if he didn’t have the nagging injuries.”

With Morin out for an extended amount of time, Myers now comprises the Phantoms' top pairing along with Sanheim, who was assigned to the Phantoms this week after playing 35 games and scoring one goal, with the Flyers. When you evaluate Morin, Myers and Sanheim, they’re three players with unique skill sets, but Myers appears to be more of a hybrid of the other two. Sanheim has the offensive flair while Morin's specialty is physicality.

“[Myers'] ability is to get up and down the ice and make plays, and use his shot and defend. He’s a sneaky, hard player.” Gordon said. “He’s got a little bit of Sam in him at times when players have to pay a price when they go near him. It’s maybe not as dramatic as Sam, but he does play with an edge and he has that offensive upside.”

In between playing three games over four days paired with Sanheim together and logging 22 to 25 minutes, Myers also enjoyed his 21st birthday this past week. Nothing too celebratory despite the significance. He simply looks back at this past year and realizes how much he’s endured and matured.

“I just think I grew as a person, and as a player, I feel like my confidence is coming back,” Myers said. “I’m happy with the way things are going now, and I’m going to keep building on that.”

The best of Jakub Voracek on his 29th birthday

The best of Jakub Voracek on his 29th birthday

It's Aug. 15, the dog days of summer and hockey is still a few weeks away.

But Jakub Voracek turns 29 years old today and this summer, the winger has already played a big part in helping push the Flyers' process into its next stage by helping recruit James van Riemsdyk back to town (see story).

Voracek is coming off a career-best season at 28 years old, posting 85 points in 82 games in 2017-18. He finished fourth in the NHL with 65 assists and ninth with 35 power-play points.

All of this came after a somewhat disappointing 2016-17 season — 61 points in 82 games, not particularly bad numbers but also not the production you'd like from a player with an $8.25 million cap hit and in Year 1 of an eight-year, $66 million extension.

Last season, though, Voracek proved that he can still very much produce at a top level. Since joining the Flyers in 2011-12, Voracek is third among all wingers with 303 assists and fifth in points with 439. Since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, he's eighth among all skaters with 272 assists and 15th in points with 390.

With today being Voracek's birthday, let's take a look back at some of the best from his time as a Flyer because Voracek is one of the most personable players around.

Some plays

Jan. 27, 2016: Voracek scored the game-winner 38 seconds into overtime. It was an important goal in a big game as the Flyers were in the middle of a wild-card chase (see story).

Oct. 14, 2017: The Flyers put a pounding on the Capitals in an 8-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center. Voracek had three assists. This one was one of them. Poor Madison Bowey.

Jan. 13, 2018: Voracek has also torched other teams than the Capitals. Here is a kick pass to Giroux against the Devils in North Jersey.


Some fights

Voracek is not exactly a fighter. According to hockeyfights.com, he has four official fights during the regular season and all have come with the Flyers.

There was the time he dropped the gloves with Gabriel Landeskog for about 30 seconds in Colorado and then said, "I don't think I picked the right city to fight in."

Then there was the time when he roughed up Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi.


Some singing

Sportswriters aren't the only ones who like Bruce Springsteen. Yes, Voracek is also a fan.


A little charity

On Feb. 28, 2017, against the Avalanche, Voracek was eventually credited with a goal many Flyers fans believed was Wayne Simmonds' hat trick. In fact, 396 hats came pouring down to the ice.

As a gesture for taking a hat trick away from Simmonds, Voracek purchased 396 new Flyers hats and donated them to local hospitals for children battling cancer (see story).

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Flyers will face New York Islanders again in annual rookie game

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USA Today Images

Flyers will face New York Islanders again in annual rookie game

While the Flyers have not announced the start of their rookie and training camp, they did provide an indication Tuesday of when the camps will be.

For the third straight season, the Flyers and New York Islanders will square off Sept. 12 in their annual rookie game. This time, it returns to New York.

The game will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 12 at the Northwell Health Ice Center, the Islanders' practice facility in East Meadow, New York. According to Newsday's Andrew Gross, ticket proceeds will benefit the Islanders' Children's Foundation.

In years past, the Flyers have streamed the games on their official website.

Last year, the Flyers-Islanders rookie game was on Sept. 13, 2017, two days after rookie camp began and two days before the main camp opened.

The rookie game marks the official end of rookie camp, so by the process of elimination, a safe guess would be the Flyers' rookie camp will be Sept. 10 and training camp likely opening a day or two after the game.

The Islanders beat the Flyers, 4-3, in overtime last September. The Flyers won the first game two years ago. From 2007 to 2014, the Flyers and Capitals faced each other in their annual rookie games.

Rookie games are fun because they're the first glimpse of prospects and with the Flyers, there's a ton to be excited about — even if signing James van Riemsdyk accelerates their process (see story).

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