Decision time looming
FLYERS TV: Holmgren // Laviolette
There’s no denying that coming into camp there simply wasn’t a lot of space on the roster for two, maybe three young players to come in and make the squad.
Now that preseason is at its tail end with only two games remaining, a home-and-home series with the Buffalo Sabres on Friday (home) and Sunday (away), it is starting to get to decision time on the final 22 or 23 man Flyers roster.
“I think we have narrowed it down quite a bit and we continue to evaluate and continue to watch them,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “Some guys have done a really good job and they keep getting games and they keep getting back out on the ice because of that, and then I think later on you make decision but certainly some guys have earned the right to continue on.”
One of the players vying for a spot on the roster (and a contract for that matter) is Bill Guerin who has been slowed the past couple days due to an infected elbow after he suffered a cut during Tuesday’s preseason game at New Jersey.
|Bill Guerin's pro tryout contract expires at the end of Flyers training camp.|
“I think at some point we have to just say yay or nay,” said Holmgren of when and how a decision would be made to sign Guerin. “A, we’re going to roll the dice and see if he can help us or B, we’re not going to roll the dice and do something else. It might be one of the young guys. We’re not at that point yet, we still have some time and hopefully he can heal.”
Another factor coming into play is not so much the talent level that is out there competing for jobs, but who fits best into Laviolette’s puck-pursuit system of play.
“We’ve got to be a great skating team,” said Laviolette. “The skating is more for conditioning… For the rest of camp and even in the beginning of the season. There’s no punishment there [with skating drills]. We’re just skating because in order to play the way we need to play we have to be conditioned at the highest level.”
And with Ian Laperriere out indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms, his line mate Darroll Powe looks to be counted on once again to pick up his play.
“[Powe] and Betts were a main stay back there and when Ian went down [last season], others had to pick it up,” said Laviolette. That’s the great thing about Darroll. He can play in all lines and all positions and be used in a penalty kill situation. So he brings a lot of different things to the table that a coach can find handy.”
LATEST ON INJURIES
* Goaltender Johan Backlund will dress in tomorrow’s preseason home finale vs. Buffalo, but will not get the start in net.
“Is he ready? Health-wise yes,” said Laviolette. We just want to make sure he gets some shots.”
* Chris Pronger has not skated the past few days, but Holmgren was quick to admit that it is not the case of a set back or that fitting him into preseason games is not absolutely needed for the 16-year veteran.
“We wanted him to put more and more work in the weight room on his rehab and strengthening of his knee. He’s schedule to skate on Sunday,” said Holmgren.
* Danny Briere also did not skate the past two days because of an infected tonsil that Holmgren said they had to go in and drain. They expect to have him skating again tomorrow.
OTF: Leino-Betts return to the lineup
FLYERS TV: Ville Leino // Blair Betts // Jeff Carter
After getting the news earlier in the week that they would be down two men, the Flyers evened out the numbers at least on their bench and added two men returning from injury to their lineup tonight.
Ville Leino and Blair Betts made their preseason debut tonight for a Flyers squad that is inching closer and closer to their season opener on Oct. 7 at Pittsburgh.
“I thought they both played a good game,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “Ville seemed to have the puck a lot tonight. He made a lot of plays. I thought Blair did an excellent job, he looked like he hasn’t missed a beat. He did a great job on the penalty kill and had nice speed and energy and I thought both of them coming in to the first night, they did a good job.”
Leino seemed to come out flying right out of the gates, pulling a spin-o-rama move on his first shift on the ice, and oh yeah by the end of the game, registered a two-point night with a couple of helpers on Jeff Carter’s pair of goals.
“Yeah, it was fun,” said Leino. “I didn’t feel as good as I wanted, but it’s only the first game and some guys have already played a few games, so I’m pretty happy.”
If that weren’t encouraging enough, center Blair Betts saw a steady 11:47 of ice time, but more importantly didn’t feel any hesitation with the physical part of his game.
“Even with the previous shoulder injuries I’ve had, I’ve never gone out there and been tentative about getting hit and things like that, and it was the same tonight,” said Betts. “The main thing I was concerned about was mentally being sharp. My conditioning is kind of a tough go. I haven’t been practicing fully with the team so far and I was a little concerned with that but tonight they kind of eased me into it, which was nice. I think overall, things are working.”
The Flyers picked up their fourth win of the preseason and first in regulation improving their record to 4-1-1 through six games of their eight-game exhibition slate and will finish the preseason off with a home-and-home series against the Buffalo Sabres starting Friday at the Wells Fargo Center.
JVR GETTING STRONGER
Sophomore forward James van Riemsdyk saw his hard work throughout the preseason finally pay off.
“Just to have that experience and that confidence definitely goes a long way,” said van Riemsdyk. “Last year pretty much everything for me was uncharted territory, to be able to go through it like that was huge for me.”
van Riemsdyk has appeared in five of the Flyers six preseason games thus far and earned his first goal after receiving a nice pass from Mike Richards in the slot and backhanding it top shelf over Islanders’ netminder Dwayne Roloson to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
Making off-season conditioning a priority, JVR worked with Prentiss Hockey Performance located in Stamford, Conn. and looks to build off of a very rich learning experience that was his rookie season.
“I’ve done it before. I know how to prepare myself throughout the whole season, to make sure I have that extra jump at that time of year, but you still have to take it one day at a time.”
* Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky picked up his third win of the preseason for the Flyers, making 32 saves on 33 shots. He is now 3-0-1 on the preseason with a 1.37 goals-against average and .952 save percentage in 175 minutes of action.
* Defensive pairings for tonights game include: Matt Carle & Braydon Coburn, Sean O’Donnell & Marc–Andre Bourdon, Erik Gustafsson & Kimmo Timonen.
* Braydon Coburn was plus-1 on the night and is now plus-7 in five games played this preseason.
* Dan Carcillo was one goal away from a “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” posting an assist on van Riemsdyk’s goal and dropping the gloves with Travis Hamonic in the second period.
* Nikolai Zherdev, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux had a beautiful tic-tac-toe play halfway through the second period, but did not result in a goal.
11:48 p.m. ET
ANOTHER LONG STRETCH
After a brief two-day layoff, the Flyers resumed their preseason slate tonight, suffering a 3-2 loss to the Devils at the Prudential Center. It marked a stretch of four games in six days before they break again for three days prior to their season opener in Pittsburgh on Oct. 7.
It’s also the part of preseason where lines start to take shape, players get steady minutes and the intensity starts to pick up in games,” said Flyers captain Mike Richards. “That’s what usually tends to happen here. Teams are trying to clear out their roster. Players are really starting to push to make the team. We’re really putting a lot of pressure on doing the right things now.”
FLYERS TV: Laviolette // Boucher
A couple of the younger Flyers players trying to crack the roster are seeing more and more ice time. Most notably Ben Holmstrom, Mike Testwuide and defenseman Erik Gustafsson, who have now survived the first two rounds of roster cuts.
Both Holmstrom and Testwuide saw time on the power play and penalty kill in tonight’s game, while Holmstrom even found the scoresheet, assisting on Nikolai Zherdev’s goal towards the end of the second period.
Erik Gustafsson appeared in his third straight preseason game and he saw over 20 minutes of ice time for the second straight game (21:09).
However one misconception of the preseason is that the games don’t count towards anything and while its true you can’t take the points in the preseason with you, they play a very important role on the make up of the team heading into the regular season.
“You just try and get ready for the season,” added Richards. “You always want to win any games, but exhibition games too and get ready for the season, but I felt pretty good out there. We’re moving the puck well, seeing the ice not bad, we just need to be quicker at making decisions.”
After the news broke from Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, Ian Laperriere spoke to the media about being out indefinitely with post-concussion syndrome.
“There’s no doubt in my mind I’m staying out till I’m 100 percent,” said Laperriere. “What scares me the most is getting hit again, and what am I going to be next? Am I going to be a miserable guy? I don’t want to be like that. I want to be myself when I leave this game. I feel like if I get popped again or hit again or punched… the way I play… I just can’t be a 50-goal scorer. I’d love to, but I just can’t change my game right now. I can’t come back 90 percent, I’ve got to come back 100 percent.”
Laperriere also admitted that he didn’t feel exactly right and that made for a tough summer, but definitely has no regrets coming back in the Eastern Conference Final and playing throughout the Final, and that was mostly due to one reason. All the medical tests all showed up fine.
“I don’t regret it. It’s one of those things where the MRIs, everything was great, even the writing tests I did, everything was great, and I felt good. I went out there and I had headaches, but it’s a hockey game. You get bumped around and you get headaches. That doesn’t mean you have a concussion. I wanted to play, and I thought well, it’s probably from my neck, I had neck issues in the past. I always found excuses. But they didn’t get any better in the summer, and it comes down to the real problem is probably coming from my head.”
* Mike Richards returned to the lineup for the first time since Sept. 21, the first game of the preseason for the Flyers.
* Defense pairings for tonight’s game include: Matt Carle & Erik Gustafsson, Braydon Coburn & Marc-Andre Bourdon and Sean O’Donnell & Oskars Bartulis…
* The Flyers have now played their first five games of the preseason, all of which have been decided by one goal.
INJURY UPDATE - Part II
12:16 p.m. ET
Following up on his injury update from yesterday, Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren addressed the media today via conference call to deliver more news on goaltender Michael Leighton & right winger Ian Laperriere.
"Michael saw another doctor last night and a doctor this morning as well," said Holmgren. "It was discovered through those visits that right now we’re dealing with a bulging disk in his lower back and we’re going to put him on the shelf for about a month.
"The second is Ian Laperriere. He’ll be out indefinitely because of some post-concussion symptoms that he’s dealing with, probably from last year. Over the next period of time… he’s getting an MRI today and Friday he’ll be going to see the doctor he saw in Pittsburgh last year when he had the injury in the playoffs. We won’t have any information on Ian until sometime next week. But he’s going to be out indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms.”
The Flyers travel to Newark, N.J. today to take on the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Having just assigned 32 players in training camp to either their respective junior team, released from their tryout contract and of course down to their AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, the half-way point of preseason has official hit the Flyers.
And with that comes a slew up injury updates from Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren, who touched on defenseman Chris Pronger and forwards Blair Betts and Ville Leino, both of whom skated today without the yellow “no-contact” jersey for the first time, and most recently goaltender Michael Leighton, who Holmgren said is suffering from a lower back strain.”
FLYERS TV: Holmgren // Laviolette // Guerin & Leino
“He’s better today and I think by Thursday he should be fine and be ready to practice,” said Holmgren. “Lower back strains with hockey players come along from time-to-time so we’re not real concerned about this.”
Leighton played a full 65 minutes at Toronto on Sept. 24, but was replaced by Brian Boucher for the shootout (which the Flyers ended up winning by a 2-0 count) because of a back issue he was experiencing with about five minutes left to play in regulation.
Leighton isn’t the only Flyers goaltender on the mend. Johan Backlund is still rehabbing from off-season surgery, but is back on the ice now and might even see action this week.
“He’s been cleared to do everything now. Today was good day for him. He did everything we asked him to do today and has no issues right now. The plan is to try and get him in a game here coming up towards the end of the week and see how he does.”
Also on the mend for the Flyers is defenseman Chris Pronger, who Holmgren is optimistic, will be ready by opening night on Oct. 7 at Pittsburgh.
“He’s coming along ok, probably not as fast as he would like or we would like, but we’re really in no rush. We’re not pushing that at all. We still have a little over a week before we start to get going for real and I still believe Chris will be ready to start the season.”
As far as Betts and Leino are concerned, both are expected to be in the lineup sometime this week, if not at Newark tomorrow against the New Jersey Devils.
WHAT ABOUT BOB?
Seeing significant playing time so far this preseason, young Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is turning heads within the Flyers organization.
“I think he’s impressed everybody, from his work ethic his attitude and his play has been very good,” said Holmgren was admitted that it would be a longshot for him to crack the Flyers roster on his first go-around at camp. “I think that’s a little bit of a stretch, but we’re going to continue to take looks at him here.”
Most recently Bobrovsky went a full 65 minutes, plus a shootout, as the Flyers defeated Minnesota on Saturday night. He stopped a handful of point-blank opportunities and overall 26 of 28 shots from the Wild as well as all three players in the shootout.
“He’s been very consistent everyday,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “His practices, his scrimmages, his games, they’ve all been excellent.”
Another experience veteran looking to make this squad at age 39 has certainly seen his share of talented goaltenders throughout his NHL career.
“He looks awesome,” said Bill Guerin. “I think he’s just having a lot of fun with it right now. He’s playing with a lot of confidence you can tell and he’s been great in the game, in the shootouts and in everything. He’s handling it very, very well.”
With Leighton out of the lineup until Thursday at the earliest, the Flyers will roll with two goaltenders when they take on the Devils at the Prudential Center tomorrow. Either Brian Boucher or Bobrovsky will get the call. Most likely Laviolette will make that decision known on game day.
11:08 p.m. CT
If Flyers fans have been tuning into watch preseason action they could be seeing a glimpse of an exciting pairing to start the regular season.
With the ever-changing landscape that is a preseason lineup, over the past two days (and games) there has been a constant. Claude Giroux and Nikolai Zherdev are playing well together… very well.
“Z [herdev] can score goals and Claude can create a lot of space out there because of his skill,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “They pulled it out last night and they were together again tonight. They did a good job.”
The two have combined for six points in the last two games with Giroux recording three assists on Zherdev’s three goals. Giroux picked up another assist on a beautiful pass that left Zherdev a wide open net for his third goal of the preseason.
The two aren’t just limited to five-on-five play and more than their share of time on the power-play unit, they even saw time together on the penalty kill midway through and towards the end of the second period.
“It’s fun,” said Giroux. “He’s always in good position, he moves the puck well and he always likes to make plays.”
However with several of the Flyers offensive talents not consistently in the lineup over the past two games, including Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, it still remains to be seen whether the two will be paired in any one of the four preseason games remaining.
“Hopefully,” added Giroux. “I like playing with him but we’re just having fun right now.”
GUSTAFSSON GETTING MINUTES
Rookie defenseman Erik Gustafsson was paired with Braydon Coburn, which usually means one thing. A lot of minutes.
“He was really strong tonight,” said Laviolette of Gustafsson. “He’s a smart player, made a lot of good passes, played a lot of minutes and did a good job.”
“Last year I played about the same minutes, but obviously its way harder at this level,” said Gustafsson. “You have to be so much more aware and everything is so much quicker here, so it was a little bit of an adjustment. It was only my third game of the season so it was a lot of fun.”
Gustafsson enters his first season of pro hockey after spending the previous three seasons at Northern Michigan University, where he posted 32 points (3G,29A) in 39 games in his final season and, serving as team captain, led all CCHA defensemen in scoring with his 32 points.
After signing with the Flyers on Mar. 31, he joined their AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms, appearing in seven games and recording seven points (2G,5A).
But for now, Gustafsson isn’t putting any pressure on himself and is taking it all as it comes.
“I just see it as a good opportunity when I get to play. I know they have a really good depth chart on [Defense] this year. It’s my first year so I’m just trying to go out and learn as much as I can from the older guys.
“I’m trying to take it all in, trying to enjoy the moment, but at the same time play well. It’s incredible to be out there with the big guys. Hopefully if not this year, next year I can get a couple of games in the NHL, but if not I’m just going to keep on working hard.”
* Last night’s D pairings included Sean O’Donnell & Oskars Bartulis, Matt Walker & Joonas Lehtivouri and Braydon Coburn & Erik Gustafsson…
* With Flyers captain Mike Richards not in the lineup, Scott Hartnell, Braydon Coburn and Sean O’Donnell are all wore the “A” in tonight’s game
* O’Donnell returned to a place he called home tonight… He previously played for the Wild in their inaugural year back in 2000-01 and served as their first ever captain…
* Matt Walker & Matt Kassian dropped the gloves in the second period. It was the only fight of the game, however Dan Carcillo received a game-misconduct at 7:48 of the second period after mixing it up with Brad Staubitz.
12:58 p.m. CT
DID YOU SEE THAT??
There’s still a lot of buzz surrounding the shootouts this preseason, but in particular a sensational goal by Claude Giroux. Hear what he and his teammates have to say about it. WATCH HERE!
“I’ve just been practicing that move in practice and it’s preseason so I said why not try it, and see if it works,” said Giroux. “I knew it worked in practice but in a game it’s a little different. It’s that kind of move that if it works I look good, if not I look pretty stupid. So we’ll see.”
JAMES van RIEMSDYK
“Yeah you get to see him do some pretty cool stuff in practice. When he uses it in games its pretty special. I’ve seen him do that move a bunch of times in practice, but it was pretty unbelieveable. He had the goalie pretty much in the corner so it was cool to watch.”
“I usually keep it fairly simple, but I have a couple in my bag of tricks, but probably not enough guts to try it.”
“I wasn’t really impressed I mean I do that in practice everyday [laughs]… It was really unbelievable. In the first shootout against [New] Jersey, he said he thought about doing that, and [last night] I was in the room and I said to the guys ‘that’s going to be ugly’, but fair enough, he did it.
“He was behind the net. It’s impressive. I told him yesterday, he comes up with stuff everyday that really impresses everybody and myself. He’s a great player and he’s going to be a great player for so many years.”
DEREK SETTLEMYRE, head equipment manager
“Our guys turned and didn’t even say anything. It was more like looking around and at the same time I looked at Toronto’s bench and it was the exact same. They were like ‘oh boy, did you see what he just did?’. Even their coaches were just shaking their head. It was pretty cool.”
“What I was thinking was that I have to go after him and find a way to not embarrass myself after what he did [laughs]. That was pretty amazing. I think his feet were on the goal line when he roofed it. It was a great move. It’s fun to see and not too many people can do that, but he certainly has enough skills to surprise us, make moves and stuff like that happen.”
“I don’t know how you stop that, the way he moved was so smooth. And where he put the puck, I think the only way you stop that is maybe to poke-check, but then he’s going to make you look even worse, so it’s just an incredible move from an incredible player and he just keeps getting better every year.”
As for the any other moves in Giroux’s arsenal?
“I uhhh [laughs]. I have a couple other moves, but I don’t know if I’m going to try those just yet.”
FLYERS TV: Holmgren on Leighton // Laviolette // Briere
SHOOTOUT – PART III
As rare as this sounds, the Flyers made preseason history tonight by competing in their third straight shootout. It is the first time in NHL history that a team has started the preseason with three consecutive shootouts.
Fitting for a team that ended its regular season in a shootout, and needing to win it to clinch a playoff spot. We all know by now what happened from there.
Last night’s game saw many flashes of offensive talent, including two goals by Nikolai Zherdev, two assists by Claude Giroux (including a nicely placed saucer pass on the tape of Zherdev on a two-on-one), a late third-period goal to tie the game and the game-winning shootout goal by Danny Briere.
All of that seemed over shadowed by Giroux’s shootout goal that seemed to dazzle his teammates as much as the audience and of course the Maple Leafs.
Giroux scored the Flyers first shootout goal. Facing Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Giroux went in and went forehand-backhand-forehand until he was almost beyond the goal line when he finally flipped the puck up with a flick of his wrist and over Giguere.
Michael Leighton got the call tonight to play the full game. He stopped all 15 shots in the first period and faced 34 shots in total, allowing just three goals through regulation and overtime. He made several good saves on scoring chances including a flurry of point-blank saves midway through the second period.
Brian Boucher replaced Leighton at the start of the shootout and Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren gave the following update on his condition.
Leighton was experiencing a back issue. The team is cautiously optimistic and Leighton will be re-evaluated when the team returns to Philadelphia.
The Flyers faced off in their third game in four days and continue their preseason slate by traveling to Minnesota on Saturday to take on the Wild… It is their third game in as many nights and fourth game in a five-day span…
Defensive pairs last night were as follows: Braydon Coburn & Matt Carle, Andrej Meszaros & Erik Gustafsson and Marc-Andre Bourdon & Oskars Bartulis..
Danny Briere, Matt Carle and Jody Shelley wore the “A” at Toronto, while captain Mike Richards not in the lineup…
The Flyers power-play has struggled so far in the preseason, having yet to find the back of the net, going 0-for-7 so far…
Only one fighting major in this game, when Dan Carcillo dropped the gloves with Leafs’ forward Mike Brown…
FLYERS TV: Laviolette // Bourdon // Shootout // Gallery
HARD FOUGHT GAME IN LONDON
The saying goes, preseason doesn’t mean much but for rookies trying to make the squad and players getting back in game shape. Occasionally a few heavyweights will agree to square off and try to get noticed by coaches and management.
Such was not the case in London, Ontario on Thursday when the Flyers faced off against the Toronto Maple Leafs in front of a sold out, standing-room only crowd at the John Labatt Centre.
In a closely contested match up that saw a couple of enforcers drop the gloves, a penalty shot and number of players (rookies and veterans alike) crashing the net and getting into scrums at almost every whistle, it was Toronto who came away with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Flyers.
Ironic, given the fact that the deciding manner of the contest came down to the skill aspect of the game… and even that needed to be earned - not given as the shootout lasted a full 11 rounds before Maple Leafs’ Colby Armstrong buried the game-winner on Toronto’s 11th crack.
In almost identical fashion to the Flyers preseason opener, the Flyers played their starting goaltender (this time Brian Boucher got the call) for the first two periods while and young Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky finished the remainder of the game, which again turned out to go into overtime and a shootout.
Bobrovsky faced 14 shots through the third period and overtime, yielding only one goal, and stopped seven of 11 shooters in the shootout.
Boucher saw a steady diet of pucks, earning 19 saves on 20 shots in the first two period of play.
For the Flyers, rookie defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon recorded the game’s first goal, while Bill Guerin gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead heading into the third period.
This is the seventh consecutive year the Flyers have hosted a preseason game in London and second straight season they have faced off against Toronto… The Flyers own an all-time record of 4-2-1 at the Labatt Centre and are 0-1-1 against the Leafs…
James van Riemsdyk faced Leafs goaltender James Riemer twice in the contest. Once on a penalty shot and another chance in the shootout. He was unsuccessful on both…
As lines continued to get jumbled, the defensive pairings for the game were Andrej Meszaros & Marc-Andre Bourdon, Matt Carle & Oskars Bartulis and Matt Walker & Joonas Lehtivouri
This is the first time in Flyers history that their first two preseason games were decided by a shootouts.
Matt Carle, Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell all wore an “A”, while captain Mike Richards and the other alternate captains did not make the trip.
OTF: FLYING UNDER THE RADAR?
Heading into camp there are usually two factors that go hand-in-hand and end up colliding at the end of the preseason.
First, which just so happens to be the case here in Philly, is the amount of depth a team has.
Second, is which young prospect will emerge this season and crack the season opening roster.
This season is certainly a challenge seeing that the Flyers have brought back a majority of the team that got them playing into June, but forward Andreas Nodl is quietly making a case for himself and caught the eye of Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette long before training camp started.
“I thought he had a real strong playoffs for us,” said Laviolette. “He was a guy that popped in there for us when guys were injured and I go back to that Boston series there was a time when we had a one-goal lead with a minute and a half to go. I just had that trust in his game that he was going to play strong.”
“I think that every player wants to be out there on the ice,” said Nodl. “I think that’s what you train for all summer. Its what you play for as a kid, to be out there with a couple minutes left to help your team win. It shows a lot of trust. [The playoffs] were an awesome time to come in and be able to help the team.”
Its that kind of confidence that gives Nodl a legitimate shot to make this year’s roster coming off of his third training camp with the Flyers.
A natural right wing, Nodl is competing for a spot on the roster that has nine players on the right side. Some rookies, some veterans such as Bill Guerin, who came to camp on a PTO, and Ian Laperriere, who enters his 16th season in the NHL.
“It’s a special team here and I’m excited,” said Nodl. “My locker is right next to [Ian] Laperriere and there are also so many veterans that I look to.”
Chris Pronger took his first strides out on the ice today along with his teammates in the first group of players. He was however limited to no contact, wearing the team’s yellow-colored jersey for those still recovering and rehabbing.
“When guys start practicing getting involved in practice as they get closer, when they lose the yellow/no contact jersey that means they’re getting closer and then they get into the play," said Laviolette. " It's always positive when guys start to heal up and get back on.”
Pronger has surgery on July 27 to remove “loose bodies” from his right knee and has been rehabbing since August 9 at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone. He has set no official time table for his return to action.
Laviolette // Bobrovsky & Leighton
OTF: FROM RUSSIA WITH GLOVE
The Flyers carried over a little comeback magic from last season earning a 4-3 win in a shootout over the visiting New Jersey Devils in their preseason opener on Tuesday.
Danny Briere scored with just over six minutes remaining in the final frame to knot the game at 3-3 and Claude Giroux and Mike Richards each tallied shootout goals, but the story of the night came from 22-year-old goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
“I think his quickness is what catches everybody’s eye,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “The pad save that he made where he came across on the rink to rink side to side pass. I think that’s what jumps out most for everybody that watches him is that he’s athletic and he’s quick.”
Bobrovsky entered the game at the beginning of the third period and for the most part did not see much action until the half-way point of the period eventually facing his first shot at the 11:13 mark.
In total, Bobrovsky stopped all seven shots he faced through the third period and overtime and stopped three of four Devils in the shootout to secure the win for the Flyers.
“You don’t know where a game is going,” added Laviolette. “You plan for him to come in for the last period, 20 minutes you don’t know where it’s going to go from there. The situation happened and he ended up getting into it. I thought he did a good job with the third period. He didn’t have a lot of chances but he had some big saves and in the shootout I thought he did a good job as well.”
His post-to-post save was just one of the impressive saves he made, certainly showing no signs of being a rookie.
“It was the first game, so I was a little nervous and was very concentrated every minute of the game,” said Bobrovsky via a translator. “It didn’t matter whether I had shots or not, I was paying attention every second.”
The Flyers resume their preseason schedule on Thursday, September 23 when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario. The JLC, home of the OHL’s London Knights, is managed by Global Spectrum. The Flyers will be the home team for the contest.
Laviolette // Timonen // Shelley
FIRST TEST TUESDAY
After three days of on-ice sessions the Flyers will go into Tuesday with their first real test when they face off against the New Jersey Devils in their preseason opener.
“I think it’s an opportunity to get off on the right foot for a lot of new faces here,” said head coach Peter Laviolette. “[It’s] a chance to get back into games. I think when its early on, you’re evaluating talent. You’re implementing systems and you go over things in practice, but tomorrow they’ll be mistakes made, that’s an opportunity to take the tape, go back and teach this group and what’s going on and things that we need to get better at. So it's really just a starting point.”
And even though a full roster hasn’t been set, Laviolette sees the preseason games as an opportunity for particularly the younger players fighting for a roster spot.
“I think you look for young players to take the next step. I think Giroux is in that category, JVR is in that category a guy like Nodl is in that category. You want to see them make an improvement with their physical presence, their skating and their power on the ice and the way they play the game.”
Laviolette did however give away a big piece of information of who you can expect to see in net. He named Michael Leighton his starter for a majority of the game with the remainder of the contest going to young Russian goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky a likely scenario.
“He’s had a very good camp so far,” said goaltending coach Jeff Reese of Bobrovsky. “We’re very excited about seeing him in some exhibition games.”
SHELLEY PROUD TO DON ORANGE & BLACK
Jody Shelley came to the Flyers after a short stint with the New York Rangers, a team that has a history dating back to the Original Six Teams of 1926. However since arriving in town on Sept. 1, Shelley took special notice of his surroundings at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone.
When you walk around and take a look at these walls it’s pretty clear what they’re about,” said Shelley. “It’s work ethic, it’s pride and there’s a lot of pictures of guys with no teeth and smiling and that’s what it’s about. That’s hockey.”
If Shelley got a little taste of it working out at the Skate Zone and at the team’s annual ‘Meet The Flyers’ taping on Sunday with just over 800 people in attendance, then he is in for an even bigger treat on Tuesday when he takes to the ice.
“It’s a tough building to come into. The fans are on you. They’re true hockey fans, they’re smart. There’s no such thing as phoniness in this building and they know it… I think that every team plays against the Flyers has known that.”
The Flyers kick off their preseason slate at 7 pm at the Wells Fargo Center. You can catch the game on The Comcast Network and 610 WIP Radio.
Laviolette // Hartnell // Pronger
INTENSITY PICKING UP
Just as Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette promised, the intensity started to build on Day Three at Training Camp.
“I think its been good,” said Laviolette. “We’re pushing out there and they are out there for about an hour and 15 minutes. We’re pushing , but I don’t think we’re doing it to a point where anything is at risk. Things will get a little bit longer and a little bit harder so we can continue to push that pace as camp goes on. I’m happy to see that the guys are in real good shape and came back strong.”
Coming back strong is an important factor, but not one that Laviolette was concerned about today.
“I thought our puck skills were off a little bit. I thought they were better today. The shots were better, the passes were better and the speed was really good. So I was hoping to see better pucks skills and we did. I think you’ll see that as camp goes on guys get more comfortable with the pace.”
And though its only Day Two of being on the ice, the first real test of the team’s conditioning and pace will occur in just over 48 hours from now when the team takes on the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center in the first of eight preseason games.
And with players still healing from off-season surgeries and still over 60 players attending camp trying to crack the lineup, Tuesday’s game might have Flyers fans seeing a little shakeup with lines.
“I think you’ll probably see a lot of different things with the guys out of the line up and guys that are not back [from injury] yet. We’ll try things and we’ll look at things and you’ll probably see it just like we do.”
HARTNELL LOOKING TO CONTINUE PLAYOFF SUCCESS
“He was really strong for us in the end and he was really committed. He was a factor and it seemed as the bigger games came in, the better he played. “
Those were the words from head coach Peter Laviolette on left winger Scott Hartnell, who ended the 2010 Playoffs with a four-game scoring streak that included four goals and six points, and a total of nine points in the Stanley Cup Final, leading all players in goals (5) and second in points (9).
While the results may not have been seen until the Final, both Laviolette and Hartnell seem to think it was the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Boston when the two had many productive talks that was a key turning point.
“When you get a chance to talk, you say things, the player gets to say things and usually there’s a lot of honesty both ways,” said Laviolette. “He really responded. I thought he played his best hockey down the stretch. He seemed to be getting stronger as the season really wore on in the end, to a point where he was one-up on the players who were a factor.”
Hartnell is looking for that same magic to continue for this upcoming season, but will have to go into the preseason with a slightly different look to his line with Danny Briere at center and Ville Leino at right wing. Leino is still sidelined for the moment while rehabbing from surgery in the offseason.
“His line was dangerous. I’d like to see them still back together and see if it’s still there,” added Laviolette.
But for now, Hartnell definitely feels confident with the other man on his line, who just so happened to lead all players in the playoffs in scoring.
“Danny is always in completely good position,” said Hartnell of Briere. “Offensively he’s right around the net all the time. If you’re cycling, you know you can throw it behind the net [because] he’s so quick with the puck. He can make plays out of nothing. You see him in practice and he’s scoring all the time, so it’s pretty cool to play with him.”
And should Hartnell and Briere both dress in Tuesday’s preseason opener, as of right now it will most likely be without Leino, but it’s not something Hartnell is worried about. In fact, he’s made it a priority to not worry about anything in his game for this new season.
“You just try and do the rights things in the summer,” said Hartnell. “You have to look at the positives, you don’t want to think of bad things going into the season. Everyone is starting with a fresh slate."
Saturday, Sept. 18
Largest Training Camp Crowd Ever Greets Flyers
Laviolette // Guerin // Leighton // Carter // Leino
Ready for yet another year of Flyers hockey, rabid fans greeted the team as they officially took to the ice for the first time at the 2010 Flyers Training Camp. And although no turnstiles were present, it was clearly the largest crowd the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone has seen with BOTH the Flyers and Phantoms rink filled to capacity.
“It was good. There were a lot of people. It was a lot of orange,” said Bill Guerin who is taking part in his first Flyers training camp. “I think everybody’s excited to get back out there. Its not everyday you have a thousand people or whatever it was.”
Guerin is one of the many story lines during training camp. He signed a PTO with the team on Sept. 13 and even though he is without a home at the moment, he doesn’t feel the need to put any undue pressure on himself and his game if he wants a contract for the upcoming season.
“I’m trying not to. Sometimes when you put too much pressure on yourself it can backfire, so I’m trying to approach it as normal as possible.”
I feel very comfortable here. I feel like I’m in a great spot and I’m excited for the opportunity for the Flyers have given me.”
Laviolette Opens His First Flyers Camp
Another member of the organization who has been ready to open up camp is head coach Peter Laviolette.
“I hope our players get pushed,” said Laviolette of the depth at all positions. “There are players looking to make this team. There are players looking for maybe more ice time. I think all of that is a good situation to be in.”
That depth, and with taking on a majority of the rookies who attending prospect camp, is a result of the ice-time being split up into two groups, but Laviolette feels confident with the experience of his coaching staff.
“There’s a lot of people here and the coaching staff I really trust. I feel fortunate enough to get one of the best coaching staffs in the league, so I try to utilize that to the best of my ability as well.”
You can’t be on both surfaces, so we’ll try and get out to both of them. I think it’s important that we try to get the players the most information than we can. There’s not a lot of time to do it.”
With such limited time, tomorrow’s agenda features a scrimmage between the two squads that he hopes bring the team into full-swing conditioning for the remainder of the camp and preseason.
“You’ll probably see it get tougher, not easier,” said Laviolette. “I didn’t want to come out and blow it out the first day. I thought the pace was good. I thought we pushed it. I thought we skated pretty good, but to be honest, I’d rather get into this a few days and try to push the pace even more and raise and elevate the conditioning level.”
Fitting In Zherdev
For the first time since being signed over the summer, Nikolai Zherdev took to the ice with all of his teammates and even skated on a line with sophomore forward James van Riemsdyk and Jeff Carter.
“I think you can pretty much tell from day one you can see that he has a lot of skill,” said Carter. “We’ll see if things click. He seemed a little nervous. I think he wasn’t too sure of the drills, but I think over time he’ll get more comfortable with things.”
It’s not so much the click, but the desire to start clicking is what Laviolette sees as the important factor with Zherdev.
“We have to get him to fit in to what we’re doing here. I thought it was good to get him out there with the guys and start practicing. They want to start building something, start building chemistry, trust with your teammates and start building towards where you want to go.”
Leino Takes to the Ice
Ville Leino returned to the ice in a non-contact capacity for the first time today and gives an update on his progress since his surgery.
“I felt good today and almost normal so we’ll see how it goes tomorrow,” said Leino. “I was really excited to be out there today and wanted to stay for the contact, but I just have to take it easy and don’t get hurt or do anything stupid, but I’m really excited and hopefully I’ll be out there pretty fast.”
Leino later admitted that he would like to start getting back to contact and playing in preseason games in about a week, but has no official target date for his return.
Friday, Sept. 17
After a brief meeting with all players attending camp, players disperse and head home. Prospect Mike Testwuide catches up with philadelphiaflyers.com and updates us on his video-blog: WATCH HERE!
Currently no players around, however all are to report to Camp around 5:30 p.m.
3:04 p.m. - Voorhees, N.J.
President & COO of Comcast-Spectacor Peter Luukko along with Flyers captain Mike Richards unveiled the new Flyers jersey today at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone. Also on hand was Lauren Hart who began the ceremony by singing the Star Spangled Banner.
Two members of the original Broad Street Bullies team that helped the Flyers win the Stanley Cup in back-to-back years completed a long journey today by becoming citizens of the United States.
"It was pretty cool. There were two Supreme Court Justices and Congressman Brady was there and the kids did the Pledge of Allegiance. We went through the ceremony," said Kelly. "It was something we should have done a long time ago and never go the job done, but we're in now and nothing changes too much because we still get all the opportunities that were graciously given to me since I've been here at 19 years-old."
Wearing their Stanley Cup rings Orest Kindrachuk and Bob Kelly recited the oath before becoming U.S. citizens at the Citizen Naturalization Ceremony held at the Burlington County Superior Court in Mt. Holly, N.J. on Sept. 17. United States Congressman Robert Brady (Pa.) reads a proclamation recognizing Kindrachuk and Kelly as new U.S. citizens.
And one of the first official duties Kelly did as an American?
"I went to get a passport so I can go the preseason game in London, Ontario next week," laughed Kelly.
Unofficial, Official Opening of Training Camp
12:01 a.m. - Philadelphia, Pa.
Midnight has arrived and even though everybody on the team is sound asleep (that is everybody but the dedicated PR staff) it is the official start of the 2010 Flyers Training Camp. Updates to follow in the morning!