Flyers 3, Islanders 1 (preseason): Flyers look more like themselves at home

Flyers 3, Islanders 1 (preseason): Flyers look more like themselves at home


What a difference a day and a few more veterans make.

After a complete dud on Long Island Sunday, the Flyers dressed 10 regulars in a 3-1 win over the Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center.

Here are some observations from the Flyers’ preseason home opener Monday.

1. Earlier in the day, general manager Ron Hextall singled out Jordan Weal and Scott Laughton as the front-runners in the competition for the third-line center job. Both players were in action, with Weal having the luxury of centering Claude Giroux along with Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Weal made a real conscious effort to play a strong two-way game, winning faceoffs in the defensive zone and playing the puck below his own goal line as if he was a third defenseman.

2. Fair to say three rookies are getting a strong, hard look at making the opening-night roster. Defenseman Philippe Myers and center Mikhail Vorobyev have participated in all three games so far in the preseason, starting with the prospects game last Wednesday. That’s three games in six days for the rookies. And Aube-Kubel appears to be perfectly suited for a fourth-line role as he brings speed and a physical presence.

3. Vorobyev had an awful opening shift, losing coverage below the goal line, which nearly led to an Isles’ goal. The Flyers' center was whistled for a hooking penalty, but after that he warmed up nicely, playing with skilled linemates. He worked a perfectly executed give-and-go with Jakub Voracek to score the Flyers’ first goal of the preseason. The Flyers’ 2015 fourth-round pick is remarkably talented and if the coaching staff can trust him without the puck, especially defensively, he’s worth serious consideration as the third-line center.

4. Myers makes mistakes coughing up the puck, but with his reach and skating ability, he’s able to cover his tracks quickly. He’s a hybrid mix of Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg. In the opening period, Myers displayed impressive lateral agility with a Shaye Gostisbehere-like move in the offensive end, and he didn’t hesitate driving the opponent into the boards. With Myers, there’s very little hesitation in his game, often playing on raw instincts. Although, once the regular season starts, he’ll need to be more structured.

5. Tyrell Goulbourne is one tough cookie, but he’d probably have better luck picking on someone his own size. The 5-11, 195-pound Goulbourne elected to drop the gloves with 6-5, 235-pound tough guy Ross Johnston. Not only did Goulbourne move up in weight class, he clearly needed a few inches in reach as Johnston nailed him with some solid right hands to win the fight unanimously.

6. I expected Mike Vecchione to come into training camp and make a strong push for a job. However, midway through the second period skating with the puck along the right wall, Vecchione coughed it up. That led to the Islanders’ getting in transition and eventually scoring their first goal. Carelessness with the puck can be the quickest way back to Lehigh Valley.

7. The Flyers’ power play was clicking with the combination of Giroux, Voracek, James van Riemsdyk, Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov. JVR showed he’s not afraid to take some abuse, drawing a two-minute cross-checking penalty, which led to a 5-on-3 man advantage. Like Nolan Patrick, JVR has the hands and the size to be highly effective and completely blinded Thomas Greiss on the Flyers’ 3-0 goal. Dave Hakstol will have some big decisions on how he wants to balance out his two power-play units.  

8. Carter Hart replaced Michal Neuvirth after the Islanders scored their first goal at the midway point of the second period. Hart stopped all 11 shots he faced, nothing too spectacular. Outside of some early rebound control, Hart looked much more at ease than he did in the prospects game. His movements and positioning already look NHL-caliber, he just needs some seasoning. 

Lines and pairings

van Riemsdyk-Vorobyev-Voracek
Laughton-Corban Knight-Dale Weise
Isaac Ratcliffe-Vecchione-Goulbourne

Yegor Zamula-Mark Friedman


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Flyers, Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation still undecided on future events at Trump National Philadelphia

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Flyers, Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation still undecided on future events at Trump National Philadelphia

The Flyers and the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation have enjoyed a nearly decade-long partnership with the Trump organization, and it’s one that may not be coming to an end.  

In June, The Inquirer reported this year’s Philadelphia Flyers Celebrity Golf Invitational would be the foundation's final tournament to be played at Trump National Philadelphia in Pine Hill, New Jersey citing "passions that have been stirred by recent events,” which at the time was stated on the foundation website.

However, the decision to leave Trump National Philadelphia has not been finalized, and as of now, tournament organizers have not started a search for a new venue in 2019.

“We have a contract through this year, and as we do whenever contracts expire, we’ll examine all of our options,” Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation CEO Scott Tharp said.

“Trump has been a terrific supporter of ours. The questions we’ve gotten is why would you support a Trump facility and people really have that backwards. Trump supported us for nine years now. They donate the course, they donate the greens fees. It would be very hard to replace that.”

In addition to the complimentary green fees and carts, Trump National Philadelphia also donated four golfing packages to this year’s silent auction items in which the minimum bids started between $1,000-$1,500. Those packages at Trump-owned golf resorts were expected to raise at minimum $5,000 for the foundation. 

In all, the annual Philadelphia Flyers Celebrity Golf Invitational — which isn’t organized by the team — is the single-biggest fundraising event for the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation and the 2018 tournament raised $1.2 million for services and programs serving underprivileged youth in the Delaware Valley.  

Several Flyers — including Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier, Brian Elliott and Andrew MacDonald — did not participate in this year’s tournament because of injury concerns, but they were on hand for the dinner and reception that followed. 

Tharp says no player has chosen to sit out the event as a protest to Donald Trump and his policies as President of the United States. 

Last year, the USGA drew enormous criticism when it refused to move the 72nd U.S. Women’s Open from the Trump National course in Bedminster, New Jersey, which is also the future site of the 2022 PGA Championship. 

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2018 Flyers training camp storyline: Sean Couturier's injured right knee

2018 Flyers training camp storyline: Sean Couturier's injured right knee

Each day leading up to Sept. 14, the official start of Flyers training camp, we'll dissect the biggest storylines facing the team ahead of the 2018-19 season.

When the news trickled down late last month that Sean Couturier returned to Philadelphia after suffering a knee injury at a charity event, there was a collective gasp of concern.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall quickly calmed the storm. Couturier would miss four weeks and he did not reinjure the torn MCL he played through in Game 6 against Pittsburgh.

But Couturier was going to miss some of training camp and preseason. There was good news Monday, before the Flyers’ prospects and rookies took the ice on Day 1 of rookie camp.

Couturier, 25, was on the ice at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, firing one-timers, which is an obvious positive sign that he will be ready for the Oct. 4 opener.

Hextall said Couturier remains on the same four-week timeline and that he will play in the tail end of the Flyers’ preseason schedule. Monday was his first day on the ice, Couturier said.

“They don’t want me to push it too much,” Couturier said. “But, naturally, you kind of do push it because it’s the way I feel, and I felt good. Hopefully, [Tuesday] it responds well.”

Couturier said he will likely be skating on his own for another week or two and then go from there. He’s wearing a knee brace, which he said he’s using during this time period to get used to it.

The Flyers do not have a policy against players participating in charity events during the offseason, which is how Couturier suffered the knee injury.

On Monday, Couturier offered some insight on the charity event he hurt his knee at, which he called a "high-level tournament."

"Basically all the guys from Quebec meet up and play games all weekend to see where we're at in our summer training," Couturier said. "To see where we're at and push each other.

"They raise money for charity doing that, so it's part of the training. You're cautious but at the same time, not just going to sit back on my couch all summer and show up to camp."

With Couturier on schedule to return by the end of the preseason slate, there isn't much cause for concern. That said, how his knee holds up is worth watching.

Factor in that Couturier is coming off a torn MCL and that he suffered a non-contact injury to the same knee a few months later, there is some reason to be concerned.

"With the years, you learn yourself, learn your body," Couturier said. "It's a freak accident that happened. We have time to rest it, recuperate it and heal it, so we'll take the time.

"It's not like in-season where you're kind of rushing back to help the team. Now we have the time that we need to heal it and we'll take it."

Couturier enters the 2018-19 season as the Flyers' No. 1 center for the second straight campaign. Except this time, there are no questions about his production.

Playing with Claude Giroux and either Jakub Voracek or Travis Konecny last season, Couturier posted career highs across the board: 31 goals, 45 assists and 76 points.

There is a possibility that Couturier and Giroux are broken up this season as the Flyers have a vacancy at third-line center and Hextall opened the door for Giroux to return to center.

During the early portion of preseason, we'll likely see Giroux play a bit of center with Couturier out. And if Giroux does move back to center, it's not like Couturier moves to the third line.

Couturier will continue to have a prominent role in 2018-19, either as the top-line center or second-line center. He also found success on the power play last season.

The best-case scenario for the Flyers would be reuniting the top line of Couturier, Giroux and Konecny (see story).

There is no reason to believe, though, that last season was an outlier for Couturier. He finally discovered his offensive game and now he's entering the prime of his career.

And the Flyers have him signed through 2021-22 at a $4.33 million cap hit. Health withstanding, that's a pretty damn good deal.

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