The Flyers' 5-best quotes on Matt Niskanen's impact, leadership and busted face

The Flyers' 5-best quotes on Matt Niskanen's impact, leadership and busted face

Flyers players look up to Matt Niskanen.

There’s a lot to look up to. The soon-to-be 33-year-old has a Stanley Cup ring and 125 career postseason games on his résumé.

The accomplished defenseman is also playing extremely well in his first season with the Flyers, solidifying the team’s blue line and impacting both special teams units.

In Friday’s 6-1 win over the Red Wings, teammates were left looking up to him even more after Niskanen took a shot to the face during the first period. He was left bloodied and returned in the second period with a caged helmet.

(NBC Sports Philadelphia)

(AP Images/Derik Hamilton)

Impressively, Niskanen finished with two assists and a plus-4 rating in 17:11 minutes.

Let’s look at the five-best quotes after the game on Niskanen’s performance, starting with the defenseman himself:

Matt Niskanen

The former Stars, Penguins and Capitals defenseman was asked how badly his face hurt on a scale of one to 10.

“Well, I’m numb right now,” Niskanen said, “so zero.”

Niskanen needed 15 stitches.

“It’s not as bad as it looks,” he said. “I’m assuming it looks pretty bad, but it was just a slice. Nothing major.”

Jakub Voracek

Voracek, Niskanen and Sean Couturier hooked up on an important goal at the end of the second period, which cushioned the Flyers’ lead to 3-1.

As the Flyers started celebrating the marker, Voracek pointed emphatically at Niskanen.

“Old school. Veteran,” Voracek said of Niskanen. “I told him that’s why I passed him the puck on that third goal, because I only saw his cage. … I saw his cage sticking out, so I thought, ‘That’s got to be Nisky.’”

James van Riemsdyk

The Flyers nicknamed Niskanen “Steady Eddie” for his high level of consistency.

“He’s a warrior, he’s Mr. Consistency, he’s steady every single game back there,” van Riemsdyk said. “He’s a big part of our team and him coming in this year, his game and his style of game, what he brings to the table, really fits in well with our team. He’s been great for us right from the get-go.”

Scott Laughton

Laughton, who had a goal and an assist in the win, mentioned Niskanen’s leadership. The Flyers have spoken highly of Niskanen’s approach.

“He takes a puck in the face, he’s bleeding, he stays on the ice and comes back with a cage and makes a couple plays,” Laughton said. “I said it in the intermission, he’s invaluable. He’s a quiet leader for us and when he speaks, people listen. He’s been huge for us and really, really good in our room.”

Alain Vigneault

Vigneault coached against Niskanen in the Metropolitan Division.

He also heard great things when the Flyers traded for Niskanen in June.

“Not only with the way he plays — he plays the right way with and without the puck — but tremendous amount of leadership,” Vigneault said. “If you’re a player, young or old on our team, you see him take a puck off the face, get stitched up, get fixed up and come back and play the way he did — that’s what we’re looking for for Flyer players and there’s no doubt that Nisky is bringing that for us.”

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What it was like to go back to work at Flyers training camp

What it was like to go back to work at Flyers training camp

These are different times; or the new norm as many like to call it.

Everyone is tasked with adjusting to these times. For me, on Monday, July 13, I was tasked with my own adjustments ... in order to watch and report on hockey. Suffice it to say, for me, life — and my simple adjustments, considering all things — could be much worse. I was happy to return to Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, for the first time since March 11, a span of 124 days.

The Flyers were back to work at their practice facility with the opening of training camp in preparation for the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament.

Monday, July 13, was different — and that's OK. I'm going to enjoy as we adjust.

Here was a different day at Flyers practice (with plenty of hand sanitizer and wearing my mask):

Checking in

I arrived to the facility at 9:23 a.m. and hung tight in my air-conditioned car. Not too bad, right?

Gritty was probably back inside on the elliptical and hitting the bench press. Respect the grind.

Typically, I would walk in through the front doors of Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone at my own leisure, head upstairs, get situated and prepare for the day at hand.

On Monday, though, media members permitted back to the facility had to enter between 10-10:30 a.m. for a temperature and symptom check. Wearing a mask (as all were in the facility), I passed my temperature check, filled out a form answering symptom questions, and was on my way upstairs.

Watching practice

There is a ton of space in the common area upstairs. Instead of all reporters cozying up in the more confined media room on that level, the Flyers and Skate Zone set up separate workstations for each writer in the common area with proper social distance.

Very safe and very nice of them.

At one point, I think I nearly drank my coffee through my mask; we made it work.

But I digress.

When the morning and afternoon practices were held, we could stand and watch from the media room, which has windows that overlook the ice. We were asked to maintain social distance when doing so ... no biggie at all. When practices wrapped up (or whenever we needed to), we could head back to our individual and assigned workstations.

During development or training camps, entering the rink area and watching along the boards is an awesome luxury. It provides a terrific vantage point to shoot video, take notes, snap pictures, analyze drills and gain a greater insight of the competition.

Currently, no media members are allowed to enter either of the two practice rinks and understandably so. Not the end of the world as we can still observe from upstairs with a great view.

Good to see faces, even on video

Normally with practice, whenever the first skater heads off the ice following a practice, we all scurry downstairs and toward the Flyers' dressing room for access to interview players and head coach Alain Vigneault.

Conversing with players in person and 1-on-1 is what I've missed greatly during the coronavirus pandemic. Building relationships and telling stories are what make our jobs special. Access to a locker room is so beneficial because it offers you an emotional sense for the story, allows you to see and feel beyond the score of a game and what happened on the ice.

Right now, having close interactions in media scrums or tight quarters is not feasible or logical. But it's still great to see faces of colleagues or Flyers personnel from a distance or via video.

From our workstations using Webex, we were able to interview Vigneault, general manager Chuck Fletcher and players Matt Niskanen, Claude Giroux, Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Konecny.

Raising your hand virtually ain't so bad. It's like a supremely organized way to work in your question. And everyone could hear us through our masks.

Stick taps to all those involved

So many deserve a ton of credit for creating a safe environment in uncharted waters.

Three folks who are always helping and have made these waters as smooth as possible for us media: Flyers senior director of communications Zack Hill, director of public relations Joe Siville and manager of broadcasting and media services Brian Smith.

Following the final interview around 3:30 p.m., it was time to pack up and hit the road. We usually can stay as long as we'd like to write and work but the Flyers have asked media members to exit the premises approximately 15 minutes after the last virtual press conference. Again, completely understandable.

I've always liked staying at the facility to work. It's pretty quiet and there's a rink. Then I can drive home at a calmer hour.

But these are different times and we all need to adjust. Like a hockey team, everyone plays a part.

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Flyers sign Mark Friedman to 2-year contract extension

Flyers sign Mark Friedman to 2-year contract extension

VOORHEES, N.J. — Mark Friedman took the ice Monday afternoon with a new contract for the next two seasons.

The Flyers signed the 24-year-old defenseman to a two-year, one-way contract extension with an average annual value of $725,000. Friedman was set to become a restricted free agent in the offseason.

Friedman has given the Flyers good depth to their crowded blue line. Head coach Alain Vigneault liked what he saw from Friedman in the 2014 third-round pick's six games with the club during the regular season.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder is reliable, quick on his feet and plays with purpose. Friedman looks like he'll be the Flyers' eighth defenseman during the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament. He was a part of the afternoon session Monday at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone as the team opened training camp in preparation for the resumption of the season.

Friedman will compete for a roster spot next season and serve as a dependable call-up option if he's with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

In the offseason, the Flyers will have to decide if they want to re-sign veteran Justin Braun, who has been good for them and can become an unrestricted agent. The Flyers' defense will get only more intriguing in 2020-21. The blue line is an area of strength for the Flyers, who are young at the position and have prospects nearing, as well.

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