Flyers

No official update, but Flyers preparing to play without Sean Couturier

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No official update, but Flyers preparing to play without Sean Couturier

The Flyers are preparing to face the Pittsburgh Penguins without their No. 1 center and arguably their most indispensable player in Sean Couturier.

Although the Flyers wouldn’t provide a medical update or playing status regarding Couturier, a handful of players who participated in the morning skate are bracing for the inevitable.

“Obviously, he’s upset," Claude Giroux said. "It’s hockey and obviously stuff like that is going to happen. It just sucks right now.”

Head coach Dave Hakstol took a page from Mike Sullivan’s script and listed all players as “game-time decisions," and wouldn’t elaborate further, but Couturier’s teammates understand the importance of his loss.  

“Obviously, if he can’t go, that’s a big blow for us,” defenseman Brandon Manning said. “At the same time, it’s an opportunity for other guys to step up. I think collectively you have to bear down a little more and be better and communicate a bit more. G’s played center before and he can step into that role defensively and I think [Nolan Patrick’s] defensive game has come a long way this year.”

Giroux would be the one player most greatly impacted by Couturier’s loss. The Flyers’ captain had a Hart Trophy-worthy season scoring a career-high 34 goals and 102 points playing left wing alongside Couturier for all 82 games. If Giroux mans the middle, he’ll likely be flanked by Jakub Voracek on the right and either Michael Raffl or Travis Konecny on the left.  

“I’ve played center nine years so I’m sure I’ll adapt pretty quick,” Giroux said. “Having played wing all year me and Coots have been switching a little bit, taking faceoffs and stuff, so if I have to play center, I’m not too worried about it.”

Two years ago, the Flyers had to make due without Couturier in their first-round series with Washington when he separated his shoulder on a hit from Alex Ovechkin. 

Hakstol’s team struggled, allowing 10 goals over their next two games in the series while making the necessary defensive adjustments without Couturier while also receiving poor goaltending from Steve Mason. Michal Neuvirth eventually stepped in and provided stellar goaltending, which is what the Flyers need from Brian Elliott to have any chance of winning a series against the Penguins.

“When you look at playoff time and playoff goaltending, he’s made a lot of key saves,” Hakstol said. “Maybe there’s one more somewhere along the way in terms of timing of the key save that could have provided a boost to our team, but I thought [Elliott’s] play in Game 3 was pretty solid.”

Interestingly, Giroux made reference to the 2010 postseason run to the Stanley Cup Final when the Flyers didn’t have Jeff Carter for the first two series, as well as Simon Gagne, who missed the first three games of the Bruins series.

“It’s a great opportunity for guys to step up. I remember the year we went to the Cup both Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter were out,” Giroux said. “It was a good time for guys to step up. A great example was Ville Leino who came to our team. He didn’t play a lot of games in the regular season and then the playoffs started he was on one of the top lines and played well.” 

Giroux was then asked if Jordan Weal is this year’s playoff version of Leino.

“Hopefully,” Giroux said.

The best of Jakub Voracek on his 29th birthday

The best of Jakub Voracek on his 29th birthday

It's Aug. 15, the dog days of summer and hockey is still a few weeks away.

But Jakub Voracek turns 29 years old today and this summer, the winger has already played a big part in helping push the Flyers' process into its next stage by helping recruit James van Riemsdyk back to town (see story).

Voracek is coming off a career-best season at 28 years old, posting 85 points in 82 games in 2017-18. He finished fourth in the NHL with 65 assists and ninth with 35 power-play points.

All of this came after a somewhat disappointing 2016-17 season — 61 points in 82 games, not particularly bad numbers but also not the production you'd like from a player with an $8.25 million cap hit and in Year 1 of an eight-year, $66 million extension.

Last season, though, Voracek proved that he can still very much produce at a top level. Since joining the Flyers in 2011-12, Voracek is third among all wingers with 303 assists and fifth in points with 439. Since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, he's eighth among all skaters with 272 assists and 15th in points with 390.

With today being Voracek's birthday, let's take a look back at some of the best from his time as a Flyer because Voracek is one of the most personable players around.

Some plays

Jan. 27, 2016: Voracek scored the game-winner 38 seconds into overtime. It was an important goal in a big game as the Flyers were in the middle of a wild-card chase (see story).

Oct. 14, 2017: The Flyers put a pounding on the Capitals in an 8-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center. Voracek had three assists. This one was one of them. Poor Madison Bowey.

Jan. 13, 2018: Voracek has also torched other teams than the Capitals. Here is a kick pass to Giroux against the Devils in North Jersey.


Some fights

Voracek is not exactly a fighter. According to hockeyfights.com, he has four official fights during the regular season and all have come with the Flyers.

There was the time he dropped the gloves with Gabriel Landeskog for about 30 seconds in Colorado and then said, "I don't think I picked the right city to fight in."

Then there was the time when he roughed up Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi.


Some singing

Sportswriters aren't the only ones who like Bruce Springsteen. Yes, Voracek is also a fan.


A little charity

On Feb. 28, 2017, against the Avalanche, Voracek was eventually credited with a goal many Flyers fans believed was Wayne Simmonds' hat trick. In fact, 396 hats came pouring down to the ice.

As a gesture for taking a hat trick away from Simmonds, Voracek purchased 396 new Flyers hats and donated them to local hospitals for children battling cancer (see story).

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Flyers will face New York Islanders again in annual rookie game

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Flyers will face New York Islanders again in annual rookie game

While the Flyers have not announced the start of their rookie and training camp, they did provide an indication Tuesday of when the camps will be.

For the third straight season, the Flyers and New York Islanders will square off Sept. 12 in their annual rookie game. This time, it returns to New York.

The game will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 12 at the Northwell Health Ice Center, the Islanders' practice facility in East Meadow, New York. According to Newsday's Andrew Gross, ticket proceeds will benefit the Islanders' Children's Foundation.

In years past, the Flyers have streamed the games on their official website.

Last year, the Flyers-Islanders rookie game was on Sept. 13, 2017, two days after rookie camp began and two days before the main camp opened.

The rookie game marks the official end of rookie camp, so by the process of elimination, a safe guess would be the Flyers' rookie camp will be Sept. 10 and training camp likely opening a day or two after the game.

The Islanders beat the Flyers, 4-3, in overtime last September. The Flyers won the first game two years ago. From 2007 to 2014, the Flyers and Capitals faced each other in their annual rookie games.

Rookie games are fun because they're the first glimpse of prospects and with the Flyers, there's a ton to be excited about — even if signing James van Riemsdyk accelerates their process (see story).

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