With his team’s 2020-21 NHL training camp already at its midpoint, head coach Alain Vigneault did not mince words when asked about the Philadelphia Flyers’ ceiling for the abbreviated season.
“We are in this to win the Stanley Cup. Four series. Sixteen games,” he told reporters Wednesday. “We believe that we have a very good team. We have a Stanley Cup contending team.
“Now it is our job to take it one day at a time, one game at a time and play to our full potential,” he continued. “That is on me: to get this group to become the best that they can be.”
Patrick Looks Promising
Patrick’s performance early in camp has been encouraging, as he attempts to move past the migraine disorder symptoms that sidelined him for all of last season. His ability to handle physical contact was put to the test in Wednesday’s scrimmage, when he was accidentally run over by his teammate, the 6’7″ Morin. Thankfully, he popped right back up.
“I wasn’t concerned at all,” Vigneault said. “That’s part of the game — we are going to see that. Everything that I have seen from Nolan so far seems good, and he is good to go. Hockey is a game of contact. You are going to see it. He is fine.”
“I was sitting right beside him; he looked fine,” added Jakub Voracek. “We said some good chat about it. He’s ready. You can tell he’s ready. It’s a good sign to see him out there. I wasn’t concerned after I saw him practice the last few days.”
Lindblom, Couturier, Konecny Reunited
Vigneault has been mixing and matching his lines daily, to see what clicks. On Wednesday, he started putting familiar linemates and defense partners back together. That included lining up Lindblom with Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny, a trio that had been producing well before Lindblom’s cancer diagnosis in December of 2019.
“Today was really the first time that I put guys back together that have played a little bit together in the past,” Vigneault said. “When Oskar stopped playing, he was playing with Coots and T.K. I wanted to see that today, and wasn’t disappointed.”
Catching Coach’s Eye
Without many open roster spots up front, Vigneault singled out three prospects who have caught his eye: Morgan Frost, the 2017 first-round pick who played on left wing instead of at his usual center spot on Wednesday, 2016 fourth-round pick Connor Bunnaman, and 2016 second-rounder Wade Allison. All three are waiver-exempt, which could make them strong candidates for the Flyers’ taxi squad. That would allow them to travel and practice with the big club, while waiting for their chance to step in as an injury replacement.
“I feel we have quite a few young players that are on the upswing,” Vigneault added. “The Phil Myers, Travis Sanheim, etc, that haven’t in my mind reached their full potential and are working to get there.
“Without getting into specifically about one, I do think there is a lot there and hopefully with this format, different type of format, those guys are still going to be able to prove themselves and work on becoming very good players for the Flyers.”
Captain Sets The Tone
Claude Giroux turns 33 the day before the season opens on Jan. 13. After putting up just 53 points in 69 games last season, and managing only one goal in the playoffs, the captain has come into camp with plenty of snarl.
“Claude is hungry,” Vigneault said. “I believe he is highly motivated to help this team win. I believed that last year, I believe it even more this year. He has come in here very focused, a lot of energy, a lot of emotion. Obviously, that transpires to the rest of the group.
“Today was a physical scrimmage. There was intensity. I thought the pace picked up. It was longer, but it was still, in my mind, the guys were trying to play the right way and do the right things on the ice. That’s exactly what we talked to them about doing as far as their preparation.
“The tone will be set by Claude Giroux, by Jake Voracek, by (Ivan Provorov) on defense, by all these guys that are Flyers and want to win. That’s what we are trying to do.”
After a day off the ice on Thursday, the Flyers will return to the ice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J. for practices and scrimmages on Friday and Saturday. Sunday, they’ll move to Wells Fargo Center for a simulated game day, which will include morning skates for both groups and an evening inter-squad scrimmage at 7 p.m.
Got The Gold
Congratulations to Flyers prospects Cam York and Bobby Brink, who both earned gold medals on Tuesday as Team USA defeated Team Canada 2-0 at the World Junior Championship.
— Eliteprospects (@eliteprospects) January 6, 2021
A nice touch thanks to social distancing protocols: York, the team captain, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Tuesday, helped general manager John Vanbiesbrouck hand out the gold medals to the U.S. players and staff.