VOORHEES, N.J. — There is no better way to evaluate than game action.
The Flyers' evaluation picks up Tuesday night as the club kicks off its six-game preseason slate by welcoming the Islanders.
"Now comes the exhibition," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said after morning skate. "This is where the decisions are made and players make those decisions for us by how they play."
Let's get into the essentials for the game:
- When: 7 p.m. ET
- Where: Wells Fargo Center
- Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia+
- Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app
• During rookie camp, Tyson Foerster said he was hoping to stay with the Flyers. While the 19-year-old prospect is a long shot to make the Flyers' roster out of training camp, he may not be as far away from the big club as originally anticipated. Foerster possesses an NHL shot and has improved in key areas since being drafted 23rd overall in October 2020.
As Vigneault noted Sunday, Foerster will get a chance to show what he can do in an NHL setting. His first opportunity comes tonight.
"He's definitely one of the younger players that has stepped out," Vigneault said. "You noticed him in the rookie camp, you noticed him those two games. I'm real anxious to see what we're going to see tonight. It's his first NHL game, but so far, he hasn't had an issue with following the pace. You can tell he's a shooter, he's got that shoot-first mentality, which is a great attribute to have.
"I'm real anxious to see him and a lot of the other guys. A lot of those young players haven't played a lot of hockey, so see how they look like, see where their progression is. With our veteran guys coming back, see how the chemistry is and where they are in their games."
Following Tuesday night's preseason opener, the Flyers visit the Bruins on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET/TNT). Vigneault said the majority of the players who are aren't suiting up tonight will be in the lineup Thursday.
The Flyers on Monday sent prospects Ethan Samson, Connor McClennon and Jon-Randall Avon back to their junior clubs. Vigneault anticipates keeping two larger groups in camp leading up to the team's fourth and fifth preseason games next Monday and Tuesday.
"Might be one or two [cuts], but I don't foresee very many," Vigneault said. "We play back-to-back, around there, there will be some cuts around there.
"Every game you have to have a minimum of eight veteran players, so you've got to make sure you spread them out properly. And you want to get a look at your kids. We've got six games. Are some of them going to get just one game, two games, three games, four games? I don't know. We'll obviously get together as a staff tonight with [general manager Chuck Fletcher] and [assistant general manager Brent Flahr] and sort of figure out what we want to do for Game 2.
"But I can tell you, most of the guys that aren't playing tonight will be in Game 2. Then after that, we've got three games in four nights. We'll probably keep the same numbers, but we're going to be getting looks — there are certain guys that I've already identified in my mind that I want to see at least four times to make sure I get a good read on where they are and if they can help our team, whether it be right now or at a future date."
• Carter Hart will start in net tonight and play two periods. Samuel Ersson will take over in the third period.
The 23-year-old Hart is coming off an adversity-filled 2020-21 campaign in which he struggled and finished the season injured.
"He'd be the first one to tell you that he feels good with where he is right now," Vigneault said. "You just can tell the way he's walking around, the face and the eyes, it seems to me he's got a great focus, but he's also having fun. There's no doubt that on the ice, he wants to do well, he wants to perform. He's done everything that has been asked of him so far, so I expect him to go out on the ice tonight and have a real good game for us."
Hart was not the only player that took a step backward last season. The Flyers missed the playoffs and allowed more goals than any other team in hockey at 3.52 per game. They revamped their blue line this offseason by acquiring Ryan Ellis, Rasmus Ristolainen and Keith Yandle.
"I think he's been great," Ivan Provorov said of Hart. "I think everyone kind of put last year behind. It's a fresh start, a lot of new faces, a lot of new players, changed up our system a little bit. Overall, I think everyone's excited to have a fresh start and Hartsy's no different."
• Ellis, Yandle, Cam Atkinson and Derick Brassard will all see their first game action in a Flyers jersey.
"Definitely excited to rock that orange and black tonight," Atkinson said.
The 32-year-old winger was brought in to boost the Flyers' penalty kill and goal-scoring efforts. Atkinson has a 41-goal season on his résumé from 2018-19.
"There's no question I like to shoot the puck more than pass," he said. "When you're put with pretty good playmakers, it's up to me to finish the job. But those guys can obviously score, as well. Just excited to get going tonight."
Ellis was the Flyers' prized offseason acquisition. Alongside Provorov, he'll help make up the Flyers' new top defensive pair.
"It's been awesome," Provorov said of getting to know Ellis. "We show up to the rink at the same time, two and half hours before, we get our breakfast in, get our warmup in before the ice, all the meetings and everything. Tried to help him out with our scheduling and everything like that the best way that I could.
"Just overall, doing things together, getting to know each other off the ice. And then on the ice, getting used to each other during those practices and the last little scrimmage here. Just very excited to get going and see what we can do together as a pairing during real games."
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Derick Brassard-Cam Atkinson
Isaac Ratcliffe-Connor Bunnaman-Tyson Foerster
Maksim Sushko-German Rubtsov-Max Willman
Ivan Provorov-Ryan Ellis
Keith Yandle-Justin Braun
Nick Seeler-Egor Zamula
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