Flyers

Jakub Voracek has 'that f--- you attitude' back thanks to quiet force Sean Couturier

Jakub Voracek has 'that f--- you attitude' back thanks to quiet force Sean Couturier

Sean Couturier was asked why it has worked so well in head coach Alain Vigneault’s strategy to use the 26-year-old center as a sparkplug for struggling teammates.

“I don’t know,” Couturier said with a modest laugh to start his answer.

Couturier is reserved and unassuming. His toothless smile seeks more attention than he does, when the do-it-all player has all the right to say look at me.

But that just isn’t him.

So allow Jakub Voracek to tell you what Couturier can do for a player.

“I feel like I have a swagger back,” Voracek said after the Flyers’ 2-1 win Monday night over the Canucks. “If I don’t play with a swagger, I think that’s what was missing. I’ve got the swagger back and kind of that f--- you attitude that I need to have to be successful.”

Not so quiet.

Last Thursday, Vigneault placed Voracek on Couturier’s line with Oskar Lindblom. Over the previous 11 games, Voracek had no goals, four assists and a minus-3 rating. In three games with Couturier, Voracek has two goals, an assist and a plus-3 mark.

Against the Canucks, Voracek notched an assist and scored the game-winner in the third period, while Couturier also registered a multi-point game. He has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) and a plus-8 rating in the Flyers’ last 14 games.

“He’s helping everyone,” Voracek said. “He’s always in the right position, same with Oskar. They are both really easy to read off of. For me to keep a little bit of speed kind of helped me, so I don’t have to stop and start all the time, which is really hard to do for an 82-game season.”

While Couturier is not the ostentatious type, his style of play possesses that f--- you attitude with the opposition. He’s a nightmare to draw in the faceoff circle, he’ll grind you defensively and wear you down offensively.

Canucks star Elias Pettersson was held without a point and shot by the Flyers for just the second time this season. The 21-year-old center came into the Wells Fargo Center with 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) over 24 games.

“Coots is one of the best defensive forwards putting up huge offensive numbers," Voracek said. “He knows what to do to make the other top lines miserable.”

And make his teammates happy.

“I’ve got to say that everybody that I’ve played with Coots has played well,” Vigneault said. “I don’t know if that’s Coots or guys getting excited playing with him. Coots is a real solid 200-foot player. You can trust him as a coach in defensive situations. Offensively, again tonight, that line was real effective.”

Couturier doesn’t need to tell anyone. Voracek served as a proper reminder.

 

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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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