(Photo: Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)
Another day of training camp is in the books for the Flyers as their first preseason starts to draw closer. The pace remains high, though the energy level started to dip a bit after three days of high-intensity practices.
There was more of an emphasis on offensive-zone drills and forechecking, and several players showcased a scoring touch with a few nice shots, notably Travis Konecny and Cam Atkinson.
Line combinations remained the same, though there were a couple of injuries on Day 3. Tanner Laczynski was supposed to be on the ice with Group A, but did not practice due to an injury to “his other side,” according to Alain Vigneault. Linus Högberg left the Group B session early and did not return. He was having an MRI following an oblique injury.
Vigneault also said that he would be changing the schedule for training camp after noticing the dip in energy. A pre-scheduled day off on Wednesday next week will now be Monday. On Sunday, the Flyers will focus on special teams play and cap the day’s activities with a scrimmage.
Another part of Day 3 of training camp was hearing from Dave Scott, Governor of the Flyers. Scott had previously mentioned not feeling the team needed to make many changes as last season started to draw to a close. The offseason was anything but that for GM Chuck Fletcher. So what changed about the mindset?
“I think we had a lot of conversations about it, and it was really to make sure he had what he needed to work with,” Scott said. “As you get into it, it's a little bit of a domino effect. You make the first big move with Ellis and we went on from there. We really strengthened the team. I think we knew what we wanted to do. It was defense first for sure. Then we were fortunate, I think, to do pretty well on the forward side.”
Scott started his press conference by making a statement that was very much a state of the team, stating his excitement for the season and the challenge presented to the entire organization this season.
“Just the fact how excited I am about our team this year, kind of where we are, and just the fact that we're back to an 82-game season,” Scott said. “Some sense of normalcy. I think the one thing that stands out to me is we have time. Time for development camp, rookie camp and now we got the training camp. We got the six preseason games. I think it's really going to put us in a strong position as we go forward.
“I do want to just touch on last year’s season. It was very disappointing as you all know and to say the least. I think when we got done, I challenged our whole organization, ‘what could we do to really make this team better?’ I think everybody took it to heart and just really want to recognize Chuck and the staff because it's not an easy task. In this cap world that we live in, and the fact that this year, it's a flat cap. You have the hand you're dealt. We're all in the same boat there, but I think we accomplished a lot of our goals. We've got depth. We've got experience. We've got leadership, on and off the ice. Couldn't be happier about that. Just looking at the energy and enthusiasm out there this week.”
With so much excitement and enthusiasm from within, what does that mean for the Flyers expectations? Scott isn’t going to be making any predictions, but feels like one goal is obvious.
“It's early, but job one is you got to make the playoffs,” Scott said. “You just have to make the playoffs. It's expected. I think we're all on the same page with that. I say we're early into this, but we're feeling pretty good.
“I was so excited about the step we took back in 19-20. I think we want to build off that. Just got to win that Game 7 and take the next step. Once you get in the playoffs, anything can happen. I think we're going in the right direction. We’ve got such a good balance with these veterans and young kids. I think we're in a good place.”
Oskar Lindblom Gets Positive Results
On Friday, Alain Vigneault ended his press conference with an update that Oskar Lindblom’s latest scans came back cancer-free. On Saturday, he elaborated on that by stating that in conditioning testing, Lindblom was back to the same results he had prior to his diagnosis.
“We’re obviously banking that the Oskar we’re going to see this year is the Oskar pre-cancer,” Vigneault said. “At that time, when we told him he had cancer, he was our top scorer. Him and [Sean Couturier] and [Travis Konecny] were coming together as a line and they were playing extremely well. They were playing together on the power play. Oskar and Coots were killing penalties together. They were a real good NHL line. I’m hoping with everything that I’m hearing that he’s back to where he was prior to it.
“Obviously, we’re going to have to show a little bit of patience there, but when you talk to him, you see that he feels good. I don’t want to say he was frustrated last year, but he was because he had the mind going, but the body just wasn’t doing what the mind was thinking.”
Lindblom made his return to the Flyers in the middle of the playoff series against the New York Islanders in 2020. On the other side of the ice, Derick Brassard was part of that team that eventually won the series. Now playing on the same line as Lindblom in camp, Brassard certainly expressed an appreciation for the player Lindblom is.
“I always thought he was a good player, a really strong skater and really strong on pucks,” Brassard said. “He’s got that Swedish game. He’s really smart out there. I’m glad I’m on the same line as him and hopefully we can make it work.”
In addition, Joel Farabee said he sees the same player that was on the ice and leading the team in scoring prior to his diagnosis.
“Oskar looks really good. When he came back in the bubble, you could see it in his body that he wasn’t there physically, which is to be expected,” Farabee said. “He’s got the flow back now, so he’s looking more normal. Definitely excited to see what he’s going to bring this year. I think he’s really going to break out for us.”
- In between sessions, the Flyers Warriors held a press conference to announce that they will be hosting the 2021 USA Hockey Warrior Classic. The Flyers Warriors are the defending champions of this tournament from 2019. There was no tournament held in 2020 due to COVID-19.
- Alain Vigneault said that the goalie rotation for preseason games would start with the primary netminders getting two periods in a game and one of the younger goalies getting one period. Either Carter Hart or Martin Jones will start the first two preseason games – one each – and play the first two periods. Samuel Ersson and Felix Sandstrom will get the remaining period. After that, the Flyers expect to give either Hart or Jones full games for the remaining four preseason games, again likely splitting the workload.
- Joel Farabee spoke about his expectations coming into his third season, now with a new contract extension in place: “Each year you get a little wiser, some things you want to work on. Coming off last year, not the season we wanted. This year’s definitely important. Like our shirts say, we have something to prove. Definitely excited to get the year going.”
Day 4 of Flyers training camp will begin with Group C on the ice from 8:30-9:30 a.m. as per usual so far. Both Group A and Group B will be split up and skate from 10-10:45 a.m. before joining together from 11-11:45 a.m. for a scrimmage. For fans wanting to attend at Flyers Training Center, doors will open at 9:30 a.m.