(Photo: Mike Kruce)
By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
After three vigorous days of training camp practices on the ice, it’s time for the preseason games to begin. The first group of the day was the same lineup that will play in the Flyers preseason opener on Monday.
The lines from practice were as follows:
James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Jake VoracekIsaac Ratcliffe-Morgan Frost-Joel FarabeeOskar Lindblom-German Rubtsov-Chris StewartMaksim Sushko-Mikhail Vorobyev-Kyle Criscuolo
Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin BraunSam Morin-Andy WelinskiEgor Zamula-Phil MyersChris Bigras-Mason Millman
For the defensive pairings, it sounded like Egor Zamula and Mason Millman were going to be the two scratches, which would bring Chris Bigras and Phil Myers together on a pairing.
Alain Vigneault said that Brian Elliott will get the start in goal and Alex Lyon will serve as the backup. They will switch goalies halfway through the game.
Vigneault noted on Saturday that he liked the heavy line that featured Kevin Hayes, James van Riemsdyk and Oskar Lindblom. With Jake Voracek now on the line, “it’s heavier,” Vigneault said.
“You’ve got three guys there with great puck protection skills,” Vigneault said. “You’ve got three guys that have got some good speed, even though some might say that JVR is not the quickest, I would say he skates a lot better than people think. Once they’re in the offensive zone and they have the puck, it’s going to be tough for the other team to get it back. I’m really anxious to see how those three are going to do together tomorrow.”
The line of top prospects that played together in the Rookie Game reunited for Sunday’s practices and will play together in another game on Monday. After two days of playing alongside Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, Joel Farabee was back with Morgan Frost and Isaac Ratcliffe. Farabee has seen a lot of time on the right wing in both camps, and is starting to feel more comfortable as the days progress.
“I think I’m starting to make more reads on where guys are going to be,” Farabee said. “On my left side, I can see the whole ice whereas on my right side, I can’t really see up the ice much, but I’m starting to get a good feel for it and tomorrow will be a good test for me.”
Vigneault said there is a strong possibility that Farabee is reunited with Giroux and Couturier at some time in the preseason. Couturier and Giroux will likely not play in the preseason until at least Thursday and that following the first two preseason games on Monday and Tuesday, more possibilities will be explored.
For Farabee, it’s another opportunity to play alongside top players, something that he has enjoyed and that has boosted his confidence in an effort to make the team.
“I’m really confident. I’m not the flashiest player, I just play pretty hard. I think if I just continue to do that and have a good preseason, I think I can give myself the best opportunity to make the team,” Farabee said. “It’s just so easy playing with those guys. They hold onto the puck so well, it’s almost like they never lose it. It’s really easy for me, I can just find seams. It was a lot of fun.”
As for Vigneault, the first preseason game is an opportunity to see the things worked on in camp in a game setting and applying them.
“We’ve gone through the different steps without the puck, today we worked more on our breakouts and a few backchecking drills. Those are all things I expect to see tomorrow,” Vigneault said. “We’ve been working on them with a purpose. We’ve been paying attention to the different details, different principles that we want to have established and I want to see that starting tomorrow.”
Patrick Skates Again
The Flyers have been running through camp drills without Nolan Patrick as part of the main group, but Patrick has been skating on his own. It was announced at the opening of camp on Friday that Patrick was dealing with an upper-body injury and would be week-to-week.
While Patrick has missed the duration of camp sessions on the ice, he has been doing everything else with the rest of the team and is still getting ice time. He may not be up to speed like the rest of his teammates on the ice, but he is here, and that’s something Vigneault finds valuable.
“It’s unfortunate, but at the same time, he’s in all the meetings, he’s doing extra on the ice with our skill coach,” Vigneault said. “Hopefully this upper-body injury will leave and he’ll be back with us. I think the fact that he’s here and capable of seeing the video that we’re showing and he knows all the drills that we’re doing.
“He is behind, but he is not as far behind as someone that’s not physically here at this time.”
It’s the second time in three days that Vigneault has pointed out Travis Konecny’s absence and the effect it has on the player specifically to be missing this kind of time.
There have been no real updates on negotiations to this point, and the longer this drags on, the more tension there may be. You can certainly understand Vigneault’s frustration with the rest of the team getting into three heavy-duty practices and now entering the preseason without one of their top forwards.
The Flyers will have a brief morning skate on Monday morning for about 25 minutes, where they will run through some power-play drills. They open the preseason against the New York Islanders at 7 p.m.