On September 12, sixty players reported to Philadelphia Flyers training camp. Now, almost three weeks later, roughly a third of those players remain. Training camp was full of pre-season games, team bonding, and roster battles. The Flyers went 1-5-1 in the preseason, and as that record indicates, they did not look good.
As a whole, however, training camp was not all bad. There are plenty of things that should make Flyers fans excited about this season and the future. With the puck dropping tomorrow, let’s take a look at some of the major takeaways from training camp.
No Serious Injuries
The Flyers started a league-high thirteen defensemen last season. By the end of the season Braydon Coburn, Kimmo Timonen, Nicklas Grossman, Andrej Meszaros, and Bruno Gervais were not playing. The offense did not fare much better. Scott Hartnell, Matt Read, Max Talbot, and Zac Rinaldo all missed significant time with injuries last season as well.
There were many factors that contributed to the Flyers sub-par season last year, and injuries were one of them. Despite a few minor injuries here and there and some bouts with the flu, the Flyers come out of training camp at full health. Come tomorrow evening, the Flyers can expect their whole team to be on the ice.
For all of the criticism that is hurled at the current Flyers defense, training camp proved that the future looks bright for the Flyers blue-line. Many of the Flyers defensive prospects are not NHL-ready, but they did showed positive steps in their development.
Samuel Morin, the Flyers first-round pick in June’s NHL draft is first among these prospects. The eighteen year old defenseman had a beautiful assist in his pre-season game against the Washington Capitals. The play had many in the organization, including Vinny Lecavalier, raving about his potential. Morin was loaned back to his junior team for this season, but he may be in line to push for a roster spot next season, which is much earlier than most experts thought on draft day.
Oliver Lauridsen, a 6’6” Danish defenseman, was called up for the Flyers final fifteen games in 2013 because of the injuries that ravaged the defense. He was called up out of necessity, not because he is ready to hold down a full-time NHL job. Although he did not make the team out of camp, he made it to the final round of cuts, being one of the final Flyers defenseman at camp. He will start the year with the Phantoms and is in line to be one of the first players called up in the event of an injury.
Looking at these two examples and combining them with the potential of prospects like Mark Alt and Robert Haag, the future of the Flyers blue-line looks bright.
Same Old Story
During the stretch run of the 2011-2012 season and the 2012 playoffs the Flyers seemed to fall into the same pattern game after game. They would go down by a goal or two in the first period. They would look awful until Laviolette called a timeout. After a fiery speech by the angered coach, they would storm back. Sometimes they would be able to overcome the early deficit, and sometimes they would not.
The first half of this script was seen quite a bit last season as well. They would look very bad in the first period and usually go down early. However, last season they rarely stormed back. Flyers fans were hoping that this problem would be addressed in training camp. However, in every pre-season game they were scored on first and they rarely looked in sync coming out of the gate. When a team does not come out and play strong in the first period, it makes it hard to win games.
Holmgren’s summer acquisitions have set high expectations for this Flyers team. They are fully healthy and the future of the blue-line looks promising. However, if the team cannot figure out how to control the pace of games and dictate the tempo , they will be in for another long season.