Flyers Training Camp Update: Couturier Ramps Up Activity, Konecny Shows Off Speed
After a rigorous Day 1 of Flyers training camp, the intensity remained. At least to those not on the ice.
"You’d be surprised. It’s not that bad," Travis Konecny said. "There’s still a respect level out there. We’re not trying to hurt each other. You finish your checks, but it’s nothing too crazy. There was one incident where [Scott Laughton] bumped into [Isaac] Ratcliffe. It wasn’t intentional. We’re just working hard."
If it’s not bad to the players, it sure looks the part. Players have a competitive nature to camp so far and seem motivated to build off of last season’s playoff appearance with a better team in place.
Group 1 was once again in the same time slot and the lineup was roughly the same. Prospect forward Pascal Laberge was not on the ice for Group 1’s session as expected. He had battled an injury earlier in the week.
Both Wayne Simmonds and Brian Elliott left the ice early during the morning session when the players switched rinks at Skate Zone, but that appeared to be planned and not injury related.
As for the rest of the players, the lines were the same.
Phil Myers was again a standout among the defensemen, doing well in one-on-one drills, even taking captain Claude Giroux away from the net to deny a scoring chance. He very much looks every bit of the part in drills and playing in a preseason game seems to be the next step.
Carter Hart showed off good positioning in goal and made a few nice saves, but drills with NHL players served as a reminder that he is still just a prospect in camp and entering his first pro season. There are some areas of his game that will need work and refinement as well.
Sean Couturier appeared to be more involved in drills in Saturday’s skate. The thought was that Couturier would be eased back into activities. He looked to be close to a full participant in camp and noted his day-to-day progression recovering from injury.
"Just trying to get back into a rhythm," Couturier said. "The compete level is pretty high for the first two days of camp. Just getting the feel of the contact, the physical play of the puck, skating-wise, everything’s a little tougher right now, but I felt better today so I’m not too worried that in two or three weeks I’ll be ready for the season."
One of the more interesting groups from Group 1 was a line of Konecny, Laughton and Mikhail Vorobyev. Vorobyev is one of the forwards vying for a roster spot. Konecny, who was in Vorobyev’s position two years ago, sees a lot in the Russian prospect.
"He’s a special player to be honest," Konecny said. "He’s really smart, has a lot of skill. You can see why they drafted him. He’s a pretty unique player. There’s not a lot of guys like him."
Konecny is coming off a strong second NHL season where he scored 24 goals and really saw his game reach new heights in the second half of the year. The momentum and confidence that Konecny has from last season has carried into camp.
"I think I still have that confidence from the end of last year," Konecny said. "I think last year was big for me because I learned my strengths. It’s just a matter of me getting my feet going in games and just working hard and the rest comes."
Group 2’s lines remained the same as Friday. David Kase once again skated in a non-contact white jersey.
The James van Riemsdyk, Nolan Patrick and Jake Voracek trio showed some good early chemistry, but Patrick has really been the standout here.
After an offseason to finally get healthy, he looks to have his speed ramped up even more. It’s clear he is poised for bigger and better things to come in the next season.
"Coming into camp off surgery last year, you're not going to feel 100 percent," Patrick said. "It was fun to have a good summer and I'm excited to get going here."
The newest member of that trio is van Riemsdyk, and he’s noticed some early chemistry between himself, Patrick and Voracek.
“It's been fun to get a chance to skate with [Patrick] and get a chance to feel out what kind of tendencies he has out there with him and Jake,” van Riemsdyk said. "Obviously some of that stuff is a work in progress, but they're both really smart players, really skilled players. Usually when you put players like that together it makes it a lot of fun out there."
Fresh off of rookie camp, Oskar Lindblom is eager to get going himself. His hat trick in the Rookie Game on Wednesday set the tone for his camp, and he’s determined to continue to grow and develop into a better NHL player.
"I feel more relaxed this year. I feel like I can trust my game a little more and I know how it's going to be over here," Lindblom said. "Just how fast the game is. When it gets to the playoffs, it's even faster. You have to be ready and I feel like I have a good opportunity to get some ice time in the big leagues."
On the blue line, Shayne Gostisbehere is now one of the veterans, though he said he still feels like a younger player on the roster, which is true beings he is still 25 years old. After a strong 65 point season, Gostisbehere is not satisfied in his own performance and remains as determined to grow while serving as a mentor to younger players coming into the fold.
"There's never any complacency on my end," Gostisbehere said. "Continue to realize you can get better every day. I'm not going to just settle back because I had a 65-point season. I'm going to keep getting better and try to grow every part of my game."
The Flyers training camp schedule gets pretty cramped now. The preseason begins on Sunday and the Flyers will send a playing roster to Long Island to face the New York Islanders at 1 p.m. The players not participating in the game will participate in a scrimmage in Voorhees on Sunday morning.
Head coach Dave Hakstol confirmed that Anthony Stolarz and Alex Lyon will be the goalies for the preseason opener and split time in net. The rest of the lineup is expected to be announced on Saturday night.
Hakstol noted that he’s liked the energy in camp so far and that the goal is to continue to grow and build on last season’s playoff appearance.
"Pretty good, hard-working day," Hakstol said. "A lot of times, especially when you have a real tough day like we had yesterday, you'll get a drop off in intensity and energy and maybe we had that early in both sessions today. But I thought overall we had good work days, pretty good energy and as the day went on they got more and more competitive.
"We feel like we grew as a team last year into a good team and had a good consistent push to be a team that was in the playoffs. We weren't happy with the way we performed and played and the outcome of our playoff series. So we've got to continue to push and that's this group in here whether it's the same names or some of the new guys. The main focus right now is getting work done and continuing to push every day."
The Flyers and Islanders face off at 1 p.m. from Nassau Coliseum on Sunday afternoon in the preseason opener. The game will be streamed on the Flyers website.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.