Flyers

Always learning and listening, Matthew Strome won't stop with Flyers

Always learning and listening, Matthew Strome won't stop with Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Matthew Strome doesn't mind hearing it.

The constant belaboring of one weakness would drive most teenagers up a wall.

But not Strome.

He's a learner and a listener, traits he developed growing up with two older brothers who turned into first-round NHL draft picks. When you have such influences, taking advice and using it becomes greatly valued.

So a setting like July development camp is ideal for Strome, who was drafted by the Flyers last month in the fourth round. He was considered a talent worthy of the top two rounds, but the 18-year-old winger has trouble skating. As a result, he dropped.

"Call a spade a spade — his skating has to improve," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said in June after the draft. "We all know it. He's a good hockey player with good size. He makes plays, scores goals and knows how to play the game.

"He's got one deficiency there he can focus on and we like where we got him. It's up to Matthew to put the work in."

Eager and willing, Strome started putting the work in among the 40 prospects at Flyers development camp, which ended last week. From the get-go, the annual instruction puts a strong emphasis on skating.

"That is the whole point of being here for a week," Hextall said. "Matthew Strome, right? Skating. He's learning to be a better skater."

Like an impressionable student, Strome soaked up the knowledge, particularly from Flyers skating coach Slava Kouznetsov.

"Coming here the first day, it was more weight transferring stuff, yesterday was edges and today was escaping out of contact," Strome said after the first three days of camp. "So I think there's a bunch of different stuff that I'm going to take back home from here and just continue to work on that throughout the summer."

Strome is always working, thanks to his brothers, Ryan and Dylan, who play for the Oilers and Coyotes, respectively. They push Matthew to be better.

"That's what I'm trying to do," Strome said. "In the summer working with my brothers, they just keep saying that it never stops."

Ryan was drafted fifth overall in 2011, while Dylan went third overall in 2015. Times have been busy for the Strome family, as Ryan was traded from the Islanders to the Oilers two days before Matthew was drafted by the Flyers.

"Even my brother Ryan, he just got traded, he's still working on stuff," Strome said. "It never stops, something new always pops up. Whenever something new pops up, just be determined to get good at it, and once you're good at it, move onto the next thing and keep working from there."

Strome leans on his brothers, no matter how chaotic their schedules become.

"Text every single day, FaceTime once a week, maybe," Strome said. "But mainly just texting and just communicating — I think that's the biggest thing. We don't see each other that much throughout the year, but when we do, we just make the most of it.

"They'll be on me. They know what I can do. They're so supportive of me."

It's the driving force behind Strome's appreciation for learning and listening.

"It's a big help," Strome said. "I just turned to them for advice whenever I needed it last year and now during the camp, those are the two guys I turn to the most when I need something for them to help me with."

Knowing the skating can be rounded into shape with time and attention, the Flyers clearly saw a lot to like in Strome's positives. He's 6-foot-3, 201 pounds with skill and smarts. His stick work is developed and he knows how to score. Last season in the OHL, his second year of junior competition, Strome led the Hamilton Bulldogs with 34 goals and 62 points in 66 regular-season games. He also had 28 assists and was more than a point-per-game player in the postseason, delivering eight points (one goal, seven assists) in seven contests.

"I think my shot and my hockey IQ," Strome said of his strengths. "Just knowing where the play is going to go before it gets there."

As he prepares for another junior season, Strome will keep absorbing advice along the way. Not just from his brothers now, but also from the Flyers.

"Learn from some of the older guys here and just see what it takes to make it to rookie camp, make it to main camp and then just go from there," Strome said. "Just taking it all in, learning from the video sessions, from the sports science stuff and just going from there."

Flyers weekly observations: Scott Laughton's importance, high praise for Ivan Provorov

Flyers weekly observations: Scott Laughton's importance, high praise for Ivan Provorov

While the Flyers lost their winning streak and point streak, they still put together a productive 2-1-0 week.

Alain Vigneault's team is 7-1-1 over its last nine games, a stretch in which the Flyers have allowed 2.11 goals per game. Since Nov. 1, the Flyers are 12-3-4 and tied with the Capitals for most points in the NHL at 28, continuing to make strides under the new coaching staff.

We'll get into that and more with our weekly observations:

• Scott Laughton's performance in Saturday's emotion-filled 4-3 win over the Senators served as a microcosm of his importance to the Flyers.

The team-first attitude, the hard skating, the physicality, the forechecking, the penalty killing and the secondary scoring.

He is not undervalued by the Flyers.

If I look at today’s game where it got heated, he’s one of the guys I thought that responded the best. He responded in a physical nature when the opportunity was there, but when he needed to make plays with the puck or defend, he did that — he did both of those things.

As a coach, it’s really easy to trust a player when he’s doing the right things and playing the right way on the ice.

- Vigneault

And check out these marks: the Flyers are 7-0-0 when Laughton records a point and 6-1-1 since his return following a 13-game absence because of a broken finger.

• In 30 games, Ivan Provorov has already matched his goal total from last season (seven) and set career highs on the power play (four goals, six assists).

He's projected to pass his numbers from a breakout 2017-18 season in which he scored 17 goals and 41 points. The 22-year-old's rebound from his letdown 2018-19 campaign might be the most impactful development to the Flyers' overall rebound so far in 2019-20.

Before the Coyotes' 3-1 win Thursday over the Flyers, Arizona head coach Rick Tocchet extolled Provorov.

"I think he's one of the best young defensemen in the league," Tocchet said, via Coyotes public relations.

"He plays with an edge in a sense that he doesn’t play safe. He’s up the ice, he makes plays, he’s not scared the way he plays. Not so much scared physically, just the way he plays, he’s trying to win the game. As a young guy, he wants to be in those spots. When I watch him, he wants the puck. I love young kids like that, they’re not scared.”

When asked if Provorov reminded him of anyone, Tocchet said "a little bit of Phil Housley," who is a Hall of Fame blueliner and now an assistant coach with Arizona.

• Carter Hart owns 10 wins and a 2.39 goals-against average.

By Dec. 8 of last season, Brian Elliott, Calvin Pickard, Anthony Stolarz, Michal Neuvirth and Alex Lyon had combined for 12 wins and a 3.30 goals-against average.

As much as some people want to knock the previous coaching staff, the Flyers were a mess in net at this point last season and things predictably unraveled. Really, from the outset of 2018-19, things were problematic between the pipes for the Flyers.

• One of the biggest signs of growth with the 2019-20 Flyers has been goal prevention. They've allowed 80 goals through 30 games. In 30 games last season, the Flyers gave up 111. That's 31 more goals.

A lot goes into that — goaltending and offseason acquisitions to name a few. But Vigneault's system has turned the Flyers into a more structured team.

Much more often compared to 2018-19, the Flyers, even if they're struggling to score, look like they're controlling games instead of letting the opposition do the honors. Through 30 games last season, the Flyers had 11 losses by three goals or more. This season, they have only four such defeats.

 

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Senators' Brady Tkachuk fined maximum allowable amount for crosscheck on Flyers' Scott Laughton

Senators' Brady Tkachuk fined maximum allowable amount for crosscheck on Flyers' Scott Laughton

Suffice it to say Scott Laughton got the best of the Senators on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

He was the first star in the Flyers' 4-3 victory, scored the game-winning goal during the third period, added an assist, stood up for his teammates and got under the skin of Ottawa forward Brady Tkachuk.

So much so that Tkachuk went after Laughton, crosschecking the 25-year-old forward in the back and jumping him during the final minute of regulation. The NHL reacted quickly to the play, fining Tkachuk $2,486.56, the maximum allowable under the CBA.

Following his third-period marker, Laughton had words for the Senators' bench. He was fired up, especially after Ottawa's hits on Travis Konecny and Joel Farabee, which led to some fights. Laughton could not partake in the dropping of the gloves because he recently returned following surgery on a broken finger, which is still healing.


I knew it was coming. It’s part of the game when you do that stuff and chirp the bench, you know it’s going to come. I just can’t drop my gloves right now with my finger and everything. I’ve got some padding there so once I do that, I guess it’s a penalty or something. That’s just the way it went.

- Laughton

But Laughton still had the backs of his teammates. He was physical throughout, especially after the first-period hits on Konecny and Farabee. He also allowed his game to do the talking.

Laughton has four goals in his last six contests and the Flyers are 6-1-1 since his return following a 13-game absence because of the finger injury.

Would Laughton have liked to fight?

"Yeah," he said.

He did plenty enough.

Tkachuk's crosscheck and check to the league are proof of Laughton's work.

 

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