It was a rough week for the Flyers with lackluster performances against two inferior teams — the Bruins and Rangers — that both played without a handful of NHL regulars.
Which players have seen their stock rise and fall as we move closer to the final cuts and the opening night roster?
I think the Flyers feel confident they’ve found their third-line center. Vorobyev has had a tremendous camp and preseason, so much so that general manager Ron Hextall told NBC Sports Philadelphia that Vorobyev has “knocked the door down” in his efforts to make the squad. Vorobyev has been responsible at both ends of the ice, sees the game much like Claude Giroux does and almost single-handedly ignited a comeback against the Rangers Thursday. No one Flyer has raised their stock as much as Vorobyev has this preseason.
With injuries to Alex Lyon and Michal Neuvirth, I simply can’t see how Hart doesn’t back up Brian Elliott to begin the season. His body of work in the preseason doesn’t look like a 20-year-old entering his first year of pro hockey. The numbers are reflective of how well Hart has played, even though he’s had periods in which he hasn’t had much work. He’s kept a level head and has let the game come to him, while not trying to do too much. He didn’t play lights out Thursday, but his final numbers were more of a reflection of his defense.
If I had to take a stab at Corban Knight’s fate, I’d say he makes this team. Interestingly, Hextall referred to him as a "predictable" player, while coach Dave Hakstol prefers the term "reliable." Whatever adjective you want to use, Knight understands his role and as a veteran player who’s been around, he won’t take unnecessary chances and play outside his comfort zone. He can play in the middle or on the outside and do it responsibly. Plus, I like the tandem of Knight and Scott Laughton on the penalty kill.
The third-line center role was Weal’s to lose, and he never really seized the opportunity. Weal did a lot of little things well from winning faceoffs to playing responsible defense and showing toughness with the puck, but he doesn’t do well creating time and space with the puck and continues to show a preference of playing around the perimeter, instead of working more in the middle of the ice.
Understandably, MacDonald started off slow against Boston as he’s been working his way back from an offseason injury. His skating has been shaky as he has fallen to the ice on a couple of occasions. He had a glaring turnover that led to the Rangers' second goal and paired with Radko Gudas, they had quite the adventure against New York. Perhaps MacDonald and Gudas need more time together, but the Flyers will need more out of "Mac" to start the season or they’ll be heavily relying on Shayne Gositsbehere and Ivan Provorov.
James van Riemsdyk
van Riemsdyk finally came to life after Hakstol switched up the lines, taking JVR off that top unit with Jakub Voracek and Nolan Patrick. Prior to that third period, van Riemsdyk has had a lackluster preseason in which he appears to be just a step behind with a few defensive lapses as well. I’m sure there are some adjustments transitioning from Mike Babcock’s system in Toronto, but JVR isn’t quite locked in as he gets reacclimated to Philadelphia.