As the Philadelphia Flyers take to the ice in Voorhees for day1 of training camp, many questions still have to be answered. Answers that will come quickly with just 9-days until the season opener on January 13th.
Who will get the first shot at the vacated spot by Matt Niskanen, who retired in December, on the Flyers top defense pair next to young star defenseman Ivan Provorov?
Is Nolan Patrick healthy & ready for Game-1? If not, who starts as the 3rd line center?
With a change to LW, will Sam Morin make the team & bring the added grit GM Chuck Fletcher & HC Alain Vigneault are looking for?
Will one of Wade Allison, Linus Sandin, Morgan Frost or Tanner Laczynski find a spot in the already crowded Flyers lineup?
All these questions & more will be answered in the Flyers sprint to the start season over the next six days of training camp.
With the shortened training camp, many players have been in town for a while now. The last of the 41-Flyers in training camp arrived last weekend. Some, like new LW Sam Morin, have been in Voorhees since shortly after the Flyers were eliminated from the playoffs in September.
“The players are skating on their own. A lot of them have been around so I’ve been able to see a few of them. They look to be in great shape,” GM Chuck Fletcher said last week. “I think a good start to the season will be good for every club in a shortened season. You don’t want to fall behind.”
Fletcher went on to say “the way last season ended, there’s a lot of disappointment that we weren’t able to beat the Islanders and move on. Guys, from what I can see at least, worked extremely hard in the off-season. I think they’re excited to come back and take another step this year.”
Last season, the Flyers finished the season 41-21-7 after the Covid-19 halt on March 12. Good enough for 2nd in the Metro Division, just 1-point behind the Washington Capitals. Secured the #1 side in the East after a 3-0-0 pool play in the “return-to-play” playoffs. Ended an 8-year playoff winless drought with their 1st round win over the Montreal Canadiens. Then, took the New York Islanders all the way to a Game-7 before losing 4-0.
The majority of the 41-21-7 Flyers team from last season will return this season. The lone exceptions being deadline acquisitions Nate Thompson & Derek Grant, free agent Tyler Pitlick, who signed with Arizona, & retiree Matt Niskanen, who retired with 1-year left on his deal. But, GM Chuck Fletcher doesn’t believe that will be an issue in year-2 under head coach Alain Vigneault.
“Last year, AV and the coaching staff were implementing systems and a lot of teaching going on. I think this year, the vast majority of our players have a pretty good feel of what is expected of them,” Fletcher noted. “I’m sure the coaches will make some tweaks. But I think we’ll be able to spend a little more time on competition and scrimmaging versus just drills and teaching. Hopefully that will allow us to get our conditioning back quicker, get into game situations a little quicker and we’ll all be on the same page.”
Flyers Captain Claude Giroux also said “I think that’s going to be an advantage for us. Having the same coaching staff, having the same players. We added a few guys, but to know that we have a base already. Everybody knows what kind of game we’re trying to play. Being able to jump into the season and being able to play with the guys you have played with before, you to get the chemistry going.”
That advantage will play a key part in building-off the success the Flyers had late in the season & playoffs last season. After a mediocre start, the Flyers went 19-6-2 from January 7th to March 10th. A record that was top-5 in the league over that time-period.
It will be a sprint during training camp to Game-1 of the season, but will also be a sprint to the finish. The Flyers will play 56-games, 8-games against each team in the division, over the length of just 115 days. A timeframe that does not allow for slow starts.
“Every game is going to be huge because you’re playing teams in your own division,” Captain Claude Giroux said. “When you get to play back to backs and you get to play the same team eight times, you need to make sure you do your homework well and make sure you’re well prepared before games.”
The Flyers training camp 2020 starts today. It will hopefully be the start to a long run, building-off the success from last years 2nd round playoff team.