The Philadelphia Flyers are closing in on the end of training camp. Sooner rather than later, starting lineups and taxi squads will be set!
We’re officially a business week into the Philadelphia Flyers pre-season. Earlier this week, the Flyers gave a potential peek at who may be on the opening night roster. Following a rest day with tape study, they took back to the ice today. As the week comes to a close, Philadelphia is getting closer to assembling an opening night lineup and official taxi squad. Here are a few observations from day five of the Flyers training camp.
Forwards: Konecny, Couturier, Patrick, Laughton, Lindblom, van Riemsdyk, Frost, Morin, Allison, Aube-Kubel, Bunnaman, Voracek
Defensemen: Myers, Sanheim, Hagg, Provorov, Gostisbehere, Zamula, Gustafsson, Braun
Goaltenders: Elliott, Hart
Forwards: Andreoff, Raffl, Hayes, Giroux, Sandin, Foerster, Wisdom, Willman, Twarynski, Farabee
Defensemen: Bigras, Wotherspoon, Prosser, Pouliot, Friedman, Wylie
Goaltenders: Sandstrom, Lyon, Ross
Unfit to Play
Laczynski (core-muscle surgery)
Ustimenko (labrum surgery)
Ratcliffe (fractured rib)
Tell-Tale Taxi Squad?
If Wednesday was a point in the direction of the opening night lineup, then today could be a nod to who Philadelphia will place on the taxi squad. Some starting lineup players were shifted to “Group B” so certain players can earn an extra look on “Group A” before training camp ends. Forwards sent to “Group B” were Michael Raffl, Kevin Hayes, Claude Giroux, and Joel Farabee. The goaltenders and defensemen stayed the same concerning which players are playing for ice time with the Flyers.
Morgan Frost, Samuel Morin, Wade Allison, and Connor Bunnaman left a lasting impression with Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault. Defensively, Egor Zamula seems to have clinched a taxi squad position over Mark Friedman.
On the taxi squad, a team can travel with a minimum of four players to a maximum of six players and there must be a goaltender, which will likely be Alex Lyon. That could be the full taxi squad for 2020-2021.
In a quest to become deeper on the left-wing, Philadelphia began to experiment with Frost in addition to the position change for Morin. Today, Morin played on the third-line while Frost anchored the fourth-line with Bunnaman and Allison. There is more evidence behind the assumption that Frost and Morin will be taxi squad features for the Flyers this season. It’s a smart use of the roster by Vigneault. With Morin, Philadelphia is built for physicality, while with Frost, they can win with speed.
New Look Powerplay for the Flyers
The Flyers chose to use two formats for their powerplay units. That isn’t groundbreaking news. It’s common for teams to have one unit comprise of four forwards and a defenseman, and the other with three forwards and two defensemen. Two names (or one lack thereof) grab my attention.
Nolan Patrick was on the second powerplay unit. Vigneault, on The Anthony Gargano Show yesterday, said Patrick could be in the lineup opening night. He won’t ease back into the lineup. Throughout training camp, Patrick has shown that he can contribute, earning a spot on special teams.
Another name that grabs my attention is Shayne Gostisbehere. It’s because he isn’t on a powerplay unit. With two defensemen who are practically powerplay specialists, he could be successful with Erik Gustafsson. His absence could denote that Gostisbehere’s role is the seventh defenseman, rotating with Robert Hagg. On the first team, Ivan Provorov is on the powerplay, while Travis Sanheim accompanies Gustafsson on the second.
After today’s half scrimmage, the special teams had their separate practice. Vigneault is keeping other options available on the powerplay. The session afterward featured Frost and Farabee receiving some opportunities. After today’s sessions, Vigneault stated that Oskar Lindblom is also an option to fit the powerplay units.
Does Ghost have one last shot with the Flyers?
Gostisbehere may be purposely absent from the powerplay and still gets a shot with Philadelphia. Today was the second practice in a row that he worked on the first pairing with Provorov. We’ve witnessed this first pair work together smoothly while Matt Niskanen served a suspension during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. After having a conversation with Vigneault, a new lease may have been taken out on Gostisbehere.
Does this mean that Philippe Myers will not start on the top pair versus the Pittsburgh Penguins? Only Vigneault can answer that. In the past two training camp sessions, it seems that Gostisbehere is getting an opportunity to work with Provorov.
Starting the scoring today during the scrimmage was Travis Konecny, stripping Sanheim of the puck before potting a goal. He made a one-on-one opportunity versus Brian Elliott by making an aggressive defensive play.
Andy Andreoff deflected a shot from Hagg for a goal. It’s worth noting that Allison wasn’t on the ice for the scrimmage. If we’re speaking of a taxi squad opportunity, Andreoff is fighting for a spot.
Hayes beat Elliott with a backhand goal. It was a high percentage shot from under the faceoff circle. He put the scrimmage winner in the back of the net today for Team Orange.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire