Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault felt it was time to see their new-look lineup in action.
"What might be our starting lineup this year," as Vigneault put it pregame, was unveiled Saturday night by the Flyers in their third exhibition game of six on the preseason slate.
The Flyers beat the Capitals, 3-1, at the Wells Fargo Center.
Claude Giroux, Cam Atkinson and Scott Laughton scored for the Flyers, who are 1-1-1 in the preseason. Laughton iced the game with his go-to breakaway move.
Washington sat many of its best players, including Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson.
Overall, though, the Flyers saw progress on their end and they'll take it.
• Fletcher added seven pieces to the big club roster this summer and all seven took the ice, including backup goalie Martin Jones.
"We have a lot of new players to the Flyers' organization and thinking about forming, as quickly as we can, good chemistry," Vigneault said prior to the game. "The best way to form good chemistry is put guys together. You’re working on things in practice but in a game, when there’s something on the line, when you’re playing against the opposition, it’s real."
Jones had an unenviable task of facing a healthy portion of the Bruins' regulars Thursday night at TD Garden as the Flyers rolled with much more of a preseason mix. This time, Jones had the Flyers' full complement at home and fared better.
The 31-year-old netminder played all three periods and converted 21 saves. One of the stops came three minutes before Atkinson gave the Flyers the lead.
The lone goal Jones gave up came on a blocked shot that went right to Aliaksei Protas in the slot on the Capitals' first power play.
• Atkinson, the Flyers' most notable newcomer up front, was excellent. He showed sharp instincts on the penalty kill and he's a quality forechecker because of his quickness.
"I like everything Cam brings to the ice surface, to the table, to our team," Vigneault said postgame. "Competitor, plays the game the right way and that's what we need."
He scored a greasy game-winner in the third period off an intelligent read and pass from Oskar Lindblom. The line of Atkinson, Lindblom and Derick Brassard has the potential to give the Flyers bona-fide depth.
"He's got a lot energy," Giroux said of Atkinson. "He doesn't lose a lot of battles and he's not scared of traffic. You saw his goal tonight, he gets in there. It's fun to watch his hockey sense and just making the right plays."
• Rasmus Ristolainen, one of the newcomers on the back end, played his physical brand of defense.
Giroux took a decent hit in the first period and Ristolainen answered in good fashion. To no surprise, Flyers fans approved.
The fearless Finnish defenseman had four hits in the first period and finished with five. He also recorded an assist and had a plus-1 mark.
All of Ristolainen's hits were smart, timely and clean.
"Every time he's on the ice, if I'm the opposition, I'm making sure my head's up high because he's hard to play against, he makes the opposition pay," Vigneault said. "He's coming along. Coming to a new team, new teammates, new way of playing, new style of play, obviously there will be an adjustment period for all of our new players — young and old — but I see him and Travis [Sanheim] building some chemistry there."
Ristolainen and Sanheim make up the Flyers' new second defensive pair. Both have size and skating ability.
"I don't think a lot of people are going to want to play against them," Keith Yandle said.
• Giroux got the Flyers on the board in the first period with a missile from the circle on the power play, erasing Washington's 1-0 lead.
The Flyers' man advantage went 1 for 3 and the penalty kill finished 2 for 3.
The PK has to significantly improve from last season's 30th-ranked percentage of 73.1. The club acquired the personnel to do so. Atkinson, Ristolainen, Ryan Ellis and Nate Thompson can all kill penalties.
• Filling in for the injured Kevin Hayes, Morgan Frost went scoreless in his second preseason game. He played 13:41 minutes and more confidently after shaking off some nerves from his preseason debut Thursday night.
He had a good forecheck that created a turnover and led to a scoring chance in the second period. He still needs to claim victory on the second-line center job. The Flyers will definitely get him at least one more preseason game, possibly two, to give him more opportunities to create offense and build confidence.
Both teams performed a shootout (a new element to preseason games when the teams agree to it) and Frost scored on his attempt.
• Who hit the light switch?
The Wells Fargo Center experienced a minor power outage with 2:54 minutes left in the second period. The arena was slightly dimmer. The game went to second intermission and the remaining 2:54 minutes were essentially played as the start of the third period.
"During the second period at tonight’s game, we experienced an electrical issue that briefly shut off power to a limited section of the arena," a Wells Fargo Center spokesperson said in the third period. "Power has now been completely restored. We appreciate our guests’ patience and understanding."
• The Flyers are off Sunday before a back-to-back exhibition set to start next week. They host the Bruins on Monday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and head to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to face the Islanders on Tuesday at Webster Bank Arena (7 p.m. ET).
Four days ago, Vigneault said he expected a bigger portion of cuts around the time of this back-to-back set. Excluding injured players, the club's camp roster is at 44. The Flyers must be at a maximum of 23 by the Oct. 15 regular-season opener and may carry only 22 (one extra forward, one extra defensemen) for salary cap reasons.
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