(Photo: Kate Frese)
By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
Flyers training camp for the 2018-19 season is officially underway. The Flyers opened camp on Friday morning with a split group session at Skate Zone in Voorhees.
Group 1 featured the likes of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, Wayne Simmonds, Ivan Provorov and roster hopefuls Phil Myers and Carter Hart.
It is only the first day of camp, so don’t take too much stock in line combinations just yet, as everything is up for experimentation. Here is how Group 1’s players lined up.
First, the forwards:
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jordan Weal/Wayne SimmondsScott Laughton-Mikhail Vorobyev-Travis KonecnyGreg Carey-German Rubtsov-Carsen TwarynskiConnor Bunnaman/Pascal Laberge-Radel Fazleev-Isaac RatcliffeTaylor Leier-Corban Knight-Cole Bardreau
Next, the defensemen:
Ivan Provorov-Christian FolinT.J. Brennan-Phil MyersYegor Zamula-Reece WillcoxDavid Drake-Frank Hora
Brian Elliott, Anthony Stolarz and Hart were the goalies in Group 1.
Couturier has been skating all week and doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of pain or hindrance from his injury. He is not yet cleared to get into contact drills yet, but his skating is smooth.
Again, there isn’t much stock in line combinations yet, but seeing Mikhail Vorobyev get time alongside players like Konecny and Laughton is an encouraging sign that he is in the race for a spot on the roster.
Laughton and Jordan Weal were on separate lines at the moment, but as to be expected, both are running drills from both the wing and center positions. Ron Hextall named both players as possibilities for bottom-six center roles.
Group 2’s lines were as follows.
James van Riemsdyk-Nolan Patrick-Jake VoracekMichael Raffl-Morgan Frost-Dale WeiseOskar Lindblom-Jori Lehtera-Nicolas Aube-KubelDanick Martel-Mike Vecchione-Matthew StromeTyrell Goulbourne-Phil Varone-Colin McDonald/Maksim Sushko
Robert Hagg-Shayne GostisbehereTravis Sanheim-Radko GudasMark Friedman-James de HaasZach Palmquist-Wyatte Wylie
Goalies for Group 2 were Michal Neuvirth, Alex Lyon and Liam Hughes.
Usually the talk of lines not meaning much on Day 1 is to calm people down about combinations that may not make sense on paper. It’s early, but the top line of Group 2 is what many envision the Flyers second line will be this season — JVR, Patrick and Voracek. Patrick in particular looks strong, coming back to training camp this season after an offseason with normal workouts and full health. He’s looking the part, moving well and looking ready to go.
Morgan Frost centering Raffl and Weise is an interesting one, but it does at least put Frost with two NHL players during camp drills. Frost made one of the better plays on Day 1 of camp, threading a pass between the legs of James de Haas to Michael Raffl for a tip-in goal.
"We understand it’s a process. We can’t win the first round next week. It’s a process. We have to worry about Game 1 and then there’s 82 games of that. Our goal right now is the regular season, being consistent every night. I think at the end of the year last year after that west coast trip, we came back and we were really consistent in our game. We didn’t lose a lot of games two in a row. I think that’s a thing, you lose one game and the next game you have to win it. We got to work on that and I think the message is pretty clear. Guys know it won’t be easy to make the playoffs, it’s a good league. A lot of teams are getting better every year. For us, we like who we have in the room. We like the team we have now. We just have to go and have that chemistry and make sure we’re all on the same page." – Flyers captain Claude Giroux
"I am going to try to lead, on and off the ice. It doesn’t matter if you have an ‘A’ or if you don’t. There’s a lot of great leaders on this team that don’t have an ‘A.’ I think we have a great team. I think everybody wants to do everything to help the team win. That’s what I’n going to do as well." – Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov
"We've got a good squad. I definitely think the addition of JVR and the younger guys having one more year under their belt, and obviously me being healthy, I think it makes us a really deep team. It allows us to do a lot of different things with the lineup and I’m excited for this year, definitely." – Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds
"Guys want to get going and are anxious to show what we’re made of. Last year was a great year but we have to start all over again. We feel confident that guys took a step forward this year and made this team better. By adding JVR, that’s a huge addition as well. Now it’s about us going out there and showing what we’re made of." – Flyers forward Sean Couturier
"You know, it’s been a long summer. Five months off is a long time. Get that first practice out of the way. Like last year, it was a tough one. Tomorrow a little more and then it’s going to slow down a bit. Work more on the system stuff, I would say and get ready for October 4." – Flyers forward Jake Voracek
"Obviously, there’s going to be some new adjustments to make and different things you have to get used to. Obviously, playing one place for six years and I basically had the same linemates for all six of those years, so you have some adjusting to do. Today I was lined up with some pretty talented players so that’s exciting. We had some decent chemistry for the start but hopefully we get a chance to keep working at that through camp and going forward." – Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk
"It’s obviously nice to go into summer and be able to do everything without having limitations. It was fun to workout and do everything I wanted to do in the summer. I had a good summer." – Flyers forward Nolan Patrick
"It’s a different routine than we’ve had over the past couple of years. We’re going to have two good days of practice. We’ll get a foundation of systems work in, we’ll get enough in that we can go and play the first couple of games. We’ll get some good competition in, some great conditioning in the first couple days of practice. And then we got the benefit of seeing guys in game action. Every day we’re going to have an exhibition game. Players that are playing that day will have a practice, a short morning skate type of practice. The group that’s not playing will have a quality practice around noon. We’ve got four real good work days there. We’ll get the benefit of seeing guys in practice as well as guys in exhibition game action during that time." – Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol
Prior to the two group sessions, injured players Sam Morin and Andrew MacDonald skated lightly on their own. Both are a ways away from being ready for game action, but seeing both on the ice is a welcome sign in their recovery process.
David Kase is also dealing with an upper-body injury and skated in a white (non-contact) jersey with Group 2. He is considered day-to-day.
The Flyers return to the ice in Voorhees for Day 2 of training camp on Saturday. There will be two more group sessions at the same times as Friday. Group 1 will take the ice starting at 9:15 a.m. until approximately 11:30 a.m. Group 2 will be on the ice from 12:15 p.m. until approximately 2:30 p.m.