Claude Giroux

Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier wow the prospects, roster talk and more from Flyers training camp

Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier wow the prospects, roster talk and more from Flyers training camp

VOORHEES, N.J. — Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault continued to implement his systems during another upbeat, on-the-move practice for Day 2 of training camp.

"I liked both groups that came to work," Vigneault said. "The pace was good. There was no downtime." 

With that said, let's get into five observations from Saturday.

1. 'It's a different animal'

The Flyers gave prospects Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe an awfully tough challenge. In a large chunk of the 5-on-5 drills, Frost, Ratcliffe and Jakub Voracek went up against Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Joel Farabee.

Giroux and Couturier have often looked like they're on another level.

Frost and Ratcliffe haven't played a game of pro hockey yet.

I mentioned that to [assistant coach Ian Laperriere] when we were standing on the net there, I think I said, 'Those two kids are learning what the NHL pace is.'

I think for those two young men going against two elite players is a good thing. You just see the pace, you see the intensity. A couple of times, G on his backcheck stripped them of the puck. You see those guys never stop and are always moving.

- Vigneault

The Giroux-Couturier-Farabee line was with defensemen Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen. The group was dominant in the defensive zone.

"We're going up against Coots, G and Farabee," Voracek said. "It's a different animal, those three guys."

Good experience, nonetheless, for Frost and Ratcliffe.

2. Wingin' it with Hayes

Two forwards that could be in for big years are James van Riemsdyk and Oskar Lindblom.

JVR was with a new team last season, missed 16 games from Oct. 9 to Nov. 13, was slow to find his rhythm when he returned, played on different lines, for two different head coaches and still finished with 27 goals.

Lindblom saw his role fluctuate in 2018-19 and still finished sixth among NHL rookies with 17 goals.

Now you add more familiarity and — early on — a center like Kevin Hayes.

"I've liked that line, I've really liked the way Kevin Hayes has worked and sort of led his two linemates both with and without the puck," Vigneault said. "For us, we wanted to get a look at Oskar on the right side, we're probably going to try him there during exhibition. Being able to play more than one position is a bonus. I've liked that line, I've liked their work ethic and I've liked how they've competed so far."

Among the forwards, a lot can change with Nolan Patrick's injury, Travis Konecny's situation and roster battles. But van Riemsdyk, Hayes and Lindblom make up an intriguing group and we could see the trio Monday at the Wells Fargo Center.

3. Nisky and Provy

Niskanen is a steady guy.

It'll be interesting to see what level he brings at 32 years old after a Stanley Cup run in 2017-18 and a short offseason followed by a long 2018-19.

It will also be interesting to see what he can do for a player like Provorov. They've been paired together through the first two days of camp. Both can log heavy minutes and move the puck up ice. Provorov relied a lot on himself last season. Maybe Niskanen eases the burden a bit.

"Tons of experience, he's a great player," Provorov said Friday. "He's been in the league for a while, he's been on winning teams, he knows how to win."

4. Don't mark off Andreoff

Andy Andreoff might not be the most popular name for the Flyers' bottom-six competition but he's played well in camp and will be right in the conversation.

During Day 1, he had no problem being physical with Couturier and checking Provorov into the boards. He also brings some skill and scoring ability, which he showed Saturday.

The 28-year-old is on a one-way deal and scored 55 points (26 goals, 29 assists) with the AHL's Syracuse Crunch in 2018-19. Teams like depth guys with positional versatility, which Andreoff provides as he can play center or winger.

"He's a physical, competitive, team-oriented kind of guy," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said Friday. "There are some different elements he brings. We will see how the preseason goes. We feel he's clearly a guy who can play."

5. A Hart blackout

Carter Hart was sharp in net Saturday as fans enjoyed watching behind the glass.

He was pretty sharp with his attire, too.


(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)

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Meet the newest addition to the Giroux family

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He’s three days old, the newest member of the Giroux family and now arguably the most adorable Flyers fan around. 

Ryanne Giroux first announced the birth of the couple’s son Monday afternoon via her Instagram story but today we finally learned his name — meet Gavin James Giroux. 

Since becoming a father, the Flyers’ captain even took to social media to talk about their first-born in a light-hearted manner. 

Now, it may take some time before we get to see their newest addition with Uncle Gritty — and even if he mistakes him for Cookie Monster, it will certainly be worth the wait. 

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Predictions for Flyers' power play units in 2019-20 season

Predictions for Flyers' power play units in 2019-20 season

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jordan Hall and Brooke Destra.

The topic: Predictions for the Flyers' power play units in 2019-20. 

Hall

The Flyers' power play was one of the team's downfalls in 2018-19.

It was 9 for 93 (9.7 percent) from Oct. 13 to Jan. 2, a 35-game stretch in which the Flyers went 13-17-5 and dug themselves a deep hole. Overall, the unit finished at 17.1 percent, tied for 22nd in the NHL.

The man advantage finally found some success over the final 32 games of the season, a span in which it was fifth best in the NHL at 24.1 percent.

The Flyers can start the season with the obvious first unit of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, James van Riemsdyk, Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere. There's history, balance and chemistry there. Let's see what wrinkles assistant coach Michel Therrien can add to make the group more consistent and dynamic.

As for the second unit, let's go with Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov. It's tough to leave Nolan Patrick off for now, but letting him focus on his 5-on-5 play could be a good thing. Provorov can be a major factor with entries and Sanheim is strong near the point with his offensive abilities.

The good thing is the Flyers have plenty of options for the second unit.

Destra

It's no secret that the power play is one of the weakest aspects for the Flyers.

Over the past five seasons, while their average percentage has fluctuated, they have gradually decreased in the rankings. Here's a quick overview:

2014-15: Third (24.44 percent)
2015-16: 11th (18.93 percent)
2016-17: 14th (19.49 percent)
2017-18: 15th (20.69 percent)
2018-19: 22nd (17.09 percent)

Last season they had their worst power play percentage since 2006-07, when they finished 28th in the league at 14.06 percent.

Now, looking ahead to this year, making the power play better needs to be a priority.

The top unit should unofficially be set in stone for the start of the season — Giroux, Couturier, Voracek, van Riemsdyk and Gostisbehere are the top producers and their chemistry should be more than enough.

Looking at the second unit, like Jordan said, there are plenty of options here. While it could run with two defensemen, there should be enough talent when it comes to forwards to keep that at one — that one being Sanheim. As far as forwards go, the combination of Hayes, Konecny, Lindblom and Patrick should be more than enough to get the job done.

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More on the Flyers