Flyers Training Camp Day 5 Update: Let’s Talk Power Play
One of the subjects that was discussed a lot during the playoff run over the summer was the lack of success for the Flyers power play. That was an area of focus during training camp on Friday, as the team returned to the ice after an off day on Thursday.
Per the beat writers in attendance at training camp, the Flyers used the following units on the power play.
Power Play 1: Ivan Provorov, Claude Giroux, Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny
Power Play 2: Joel Farabee, Erik Gustafsson, James van Riemsdyk, Nolan Patrick, Jake Voracek
There were also reportedly some substitutions with Travis Sanheim and Shayne Gostisbehere getting looks on the power play. While it may seem that Oskar Lindblom is a notable absence from that group, Alain Vigneault said he is also one of many options the team has.
“I think what we have this year is a couple more options,” Vigneault said. “Oskar didn’t get power play today, but it is an option. We also drew out Nolan out there today. Those were options we didn’t have last year. Joel also got a chance and so did Morgan Frost. Looking at a couple of areas, a couple of different things. Today was the first day we did work on it. We are going to spend the next two days also working on it, and also in inter squad games. It is obviously an important part. I believe this year we have a little bit more internal competition going on and it should make for a good power play. Prior to the shutdown, our power play was clicking. It obviously was off as far as finishing when we went into the bubble. When we analyzed our stats, we still got some good looks. We just had a tough time finishing.”
One player who fell into that area was Travis Konecny. After matching his career high in goals at 24 in the regular season and on pace for more if not for the pause, Konecny was held without a goal in the playoffs. That sat with him during the offseason.
“It was bitter for me because I thought that we were so close in the playoffs there. I was trying to do whatever I could to contribute,” Konecny said. “Obviously, I didn’t bring my best and that obviously sat with me for a couple weeks. I let it settle in and let it bother me and used it to fuel myself for the off season. That was kind of my reflection just looking back. I played well last year before the break. When it comes down to the playoffs, the regular season really doesn’t matter. Hopefully, we can build off what happened before the break last year and get into the playoffs and have another spring at it.”
Kevin Hayes was also part of the top power-play unit on Friday and noted how successful things looked with Konecny playing net-front. While a lot of this is subject to change, it’s clear that whatever personnel are on the ice, finding a way to finish more often, especially in games that carry so much meaning, is crucial.
“I think we had an above average year with the power play last year. Playoffs didn’t go the way we wanted it to. We got some good looks but we didn’t put the puck in the net. It doesn’t matter how many good looks you are getting if you don’t score, it doesn’t help your team,” Hayes said. “That’s last year. It’s a whole new year. Doesn’t matter how good or bad you were. I thought today was a good step in the right direction. We had a couple meetings. Got guys in the places that coach wants them to be. I didn’t really watch the other group as much because we were chit-chatting on the bench after our rep. I thought our unit looked pretty good. You got five guys that look at themselves and want to provide offense to this team and want to help our power play night in and night out. I thought for Day 1, we had some good looks. We tried to build some chemistry with G and Coots on the flank. TK is really elite down low and Provy, he does what he does best.”
One thing that Vigneault continues to make clear is that expectations, especially within the locker room, are high. Vigneault had spoken about this on Wednesday, and re-stated it again on Friday.
“I believe that after being with this group for a year and coming in obviously in a different type of format, different type of circumstances because of COVID that I do believe that there is a strong belief within this group that we can be a Stanley Cup contending team,” Vigneault said. “Everybody understands that we took a step forward last year and that we need to take another step forward this year. The confidence that goes with learning experiences, and that is what we had last year, should help us moving forward this year. I like the vibe around our team right now. I like the internal competition that is there for ice time and I think it is going to enable us to put our best on the ice.”
With just a few days left until camp ends and the season begins, the groups on the ice and the lines seen at practice are starting to resemble an opening night lineup. Vigneault said that Sunday’s intrasquad scrimmage and Tuesday’s final practice before the season opener will likely have the first lineup on display.
The Flyers get back on the ice on Saturday for a split session. One group will skate from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and another will skate from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. There will be no scrimmage following the practice.
COVID Concerns Around NHL
So far, even back to the Phase 3 practices before the playoffs in the bubble, the Flyers have not experienced any issues with COVID-19. Jake Voracek missed a practice in Phase 3 camp due to an inconclusive test, but returned a negative test the next day and was able to return. Even in the current return, there have been no absences due to COVID.
But around the league, things are not off to a great start. The Columbus Blue Jackets held out 17 players out of an abundance of caution to COVID-19, and the Dallas Stars announced that six players and two staffers have tested positive, forcing the postponement of some of their early schedule.
Neither of these teams is on the Flyers schedule this season as part of the East Division, but it does show how quickly things could be changing in this current landscape. It also shows the flexibility that teams will have to have when it comes to possible schedule changes.