NEWARK, N.J. -- Wayne Simmonds had a piece of advice for rookie Sam Morin, who made his NHL debut during Tuesday's 1-0 overtime loss to the Devils (see Instant Replay).
"Simmer said don't feel you have to fight here," Morin said. "I said I would see what happens and play hard."
No one challenged the 6-foot-7, 227-pound Morin. That said, he led both teams with seven hits in 17:47 ice time, playing with Shayne Gostisbehere (see feature highlight).
"Fighting is part of my game, for sure, like [Phantoms coach Scott Gordon] told me all the time, you have to be on the ice killing penalties and not in the penalty box," Morin said.
"I can fight but I need to pick my battles. Those guys are older and tougher. I still need to get more mature physically, to be at their level."
The player people hope becomes the next Chris Pronger looked very comfortable on the ice, playing both ways off the rush, handling himself well in corner battles and reading plays in front of him.
He struggled early with the puck on his stick but settled down.
Morin was taken 11th overall in the 2013 NHL draft. Incredibly, picks No. 1 through 27 -- minus Morin -- had already played in the league.
What struck him?
"The game is a lot faster in the NHL," Morin said. "When guys forecheck, the other team calls the puck and you have to be careful because you can give them the puck. That happened one time."
Flyers center Mike Vecchione also made his NHL debut in this one.
"Good effort by both of them," coach Dave Hakstol said. "Their third periods were the best for both of them and that's what you want to see. Both of them played with good confidence. They played with confidence all the way through. They were excited to play."
Morin literally threw his 227 pounds around on the ice. He nailed Adam Henrique early, then had a sandwich hit on rookie call-up Ben Thomson and Blake Coleman a shift later in the corner. Thomson was making his debut, as well.
Thomson, who goes 6-6, picked himself up off the ice and decked the 6-7 Morin, which seemed to surprise the young Flyer.
"Those guys are strong and they're older than me," Morin said. "I'm only 21 years old and still need to get some strength. They are more mature than me, physically."
Hakstol said Morin would get ice time and he did. Of his overall time, he had 3:09 on the penalty kill. In the first period alone, he logged 6:48. Only Ivan Provorov and Andrew MacDonald played more on defense.
Late in the second period, Morin had to chase down Taylor Hall on a breakaway and managed to tie him up a bit without a penalty even though Hall got a quality scoring chance that Mason made a stop on.
"He's a good partner to have," Gostisbehere said. "He made some good plays, adjusted to the speed very well.
"We work off each other. He is definitely going to win battles down low. I can jump a little more. He's making great plays out there with good reads and has a big stick. He's a big body, takes up a lot room and can break things up."