Flyers

Flyers

Just when it appeared as though Sam Morin likely played his final preseason game for the Flyers on Monday night against the Rangers, Radko Gudas took another bad boarding hit.

Gudas received a game misconduct, among other penalties, in the first period of the Flyers' 4-3 overtime win over the New York Rangers, which means Gudas could be suspended and Morin could be sticking around even longer with the Flyers than expected.

The 21-year-old, 6-foot-7 defenseman still has the look of a young Chris Pronger.
 
A couple of years ago, Morin nearly made it out of training camp onto Craig Berube's roster before heading back to junior.
 
“I was the last cut,” Morin said recently. “It’s in the past and right now, I am in the present … to be in the NHL is a long, hard process. Enjoy it. I know when I look back on my career with 10 or 15 years that I will think, ‘Yeah, it was a good thing that the GM was patient with me.’”
 
The NHL game continues to evolve, and right now, the Flyers and the league continue to move toward smaller, snail darters like Shayne Gostisbehere.
 
Yet make no mistake about it, Morin has a future. He’s a larger, more agile, hard-nosed version of Gudas. He may not have a permanent place now, but he could next season.
 
He was here this long because of injuries to Gudas and Nick Schultz with a slew of games to unfold. Now the Gudas incident during the Rangers’ exhibition changes things.
 
Incidentally, Morin played well early with a couple hits, blocked shots but had a terrible giveaway to Brandon Pirri in the third period that led to an easy Rangers goal, which cut the Flyers' lead to 3-2.
 
“The league is fast now, really fast, but I’m a great skater,” Morin said recently. “You don’t see too many big guys who can skate like me. You need the type of guy I am.
 
“I know the fights are not there, anymore. I’m not a fighter. I just play the game really hard and you always need that on your team. If you ask everyone here when they go one-on-one with me, they don’t like it.”
 
Morin played his third exhibition game on Monday, paired with Andrew MacDonald. Ivan Provorov is a different kind of defenseman — generates offense both ways — and will make the roster.
 
Morin is a defensive defenseman. To some extent, he might be type-casted as slow because of his size, but he is far from slow. This isn’t Mike Rathje here. His stride resembles a gazelle on skates.
 
“Sammy skates well,” general manager Ron Hextall said. “He’s not old school where you don’t skate very well. He moves well. Big guy with great range. You still have to get the puck back. Guys like Sammy are not going to go away. …

“There is always going to be a role for someone like Sam. Guys gotta check. There‘s some top players you got to play against and kill penalties. Guys like that, there’s a need.
 
“Maybe a few years ago, you needed three guys in that defensive role, but it has evolved a bit. A guy like Nick Schultz is a defensive player. You still need those guys.”
 
Many clubs are going with just two or three such players. The Penguins won the Stanley Cup with a blue line last season that lacked a punishing, physical defenseman.
 
The movement to smaller players is a bit disconcerting to Morin.
 
“Yeah, but like I said, I skate really well for my size,” he said. “I’m not scared of speed. I can match anyone’s speed anytime.”
 
Morin and Gostisbehere are close friends. They were a pair at Lehigh Valley before Gostisbehere received his call-up last November.
 
“I was happy for Ghost,” Morin said. “A great guy who is working hard and deserved it. But I’m not Ghost. I will never be that flashy player on the first power play that fans would like.
 
“Fans will like me, but not the same way as him to score goals. They will like me as a guy who crushes a guy in the corner and he doesn’t play anymore. It’s not the same thing.”
 
Loose pucks
Jakub Voracek had a tremendous individual effort in overtime, outworking Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh and beating Mackenzie Skapski for the game-winner. … Jordan Weal broke a scoreless tie in the second period off a nice rush up the ice from Roman Lyubimov and a play at the net during a delayed penalty. … Voracek and Travis Konecny scored power-play goals to make it 3-0. All three goals came in less than four minutes to begin the second period. … Konecny played with Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn. … Konecny has four points, tied with Schenn for the team lead in preseason. … The Flyers led 3-0 and then blew the lead in the third period. Steve Mason misplayed a puck behind the net and Jimmy Vesey tied it, 3-3.