VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers’ morning skate Wednesday came with youthful flavor.
Ivan Provorov was no part of it.
The 19-year-old was with the big-boy contingent on the opposite ice, a group of mostly NHL players that will not play in tonight’s preseason game against the Devils at the PPL Center, home of AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.
Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said a younger lineup is set for the team’s fourth preseason game.
“Every game is a little different,” Hakstol said. “[Tuesday] night we had a more veteran group dress, so not only are we looking at individual performances but we would expect to see a little more of our structure come into play. Tonight’s roster is a little more younger, so we’re still obviously looking to build some of the concept and some of the systems and detail.”
Provorov, the Flyers’ prized blue-line prospect and No. 1 roster hopeful of training camp, was featured in the NHL-heavy lineup Tuesday night, playing 21:43 with key minutes on the power play and penalty kill. This followed a night of 28:48 ice time in the Flyers’ split-squad preseason opener Monday.
So it was highly unlikely Provorov would play Wednesday, but the fact he was saved for a veteran-laden game instead of a prospect-filled one is telling.
Then again, Provorov is far from your typical 19-year-old hockey player.
“Right from day one, I think we’ve all saw that early,” Hakstol said. “A year ago, the focus, the ability to be detailed and to handle himself like a pro, albeit a young pro. Ivan has a great level of maturity to him.”
Provorov has done his work thus far. It’s his time to watch for a game.
“You look for him to be able to go out and do things consistently and efficiently,” Hakstol said. “I think for the most part, Ivan was able to do that [Tuesday] night.
Konecny with Schenn, Raffl
While one 19-year-old sits, another gets his chance.
Although prospect Travis Konecny — also looking to make the NHL jump — did not play Tuesday, he’ll still have a chance to open eyes with NHL forwards tonight.
The talented winger will be paired with Brayden Schenn and Michael Raffl, both of whom were clearly especially selected to play tonight with Konecny.
“They see the ice real well, I’ve just got to move my feet and get in the good areas and I’m sure they’re going to find the spots,” Konecny said. “I’m going to try to not do too much tonight and just let the game kind of take care of itself — and take care of the little things I can control.”
The 24th overall pick of the 2015 draft amassed 101 points at the junior level last season. Putting NHL talent around him should only help and it serves as an amplified audition of sorts.
“It gives him an opportunity to play with two veteran players,” Hakstol said. “Travis is no different than anyone else, just go out and play his game. Every player, it’s one of the challenges coming into camp, to go out and make an impression. Every player needs to do that from Day 1. We’re getting into our fourth exhibition game here now, so it’s an opportunity for Travis to go out and play the way he plays. He has an opportunity to do that with two veteran players.”
Konecny, 5-foot-10 with speed and skill, is keeping things simple in his second NHL camp.
“I think this year I’m trying to approach it and play the game the right way,” he said. “Last year, I came in excited and I had my feet going, my energy, but I was kind of all over the place. I’m trying to follow the system and play the right way this year.
“My first game a couple days ago, it was quick pace, I wasn’t really expecting it — it’s been a long time since I was in that kind of speed. So I think tonight’s game I’ll be a little more relaxed and ready to go.”
The Flyers on Wednesday assigned Mark Dekanich, Chris McCarthy, Maxim Lamarche, Martin Ouellette, Jesper Pettersson, Steve Swavely and Kevin Sundher to Lehigh Valley, which opens its training camp Friday. The Flyers' roster now stands at 49.
Other NHLers expected to play tonight: Defenseman Brandon Manning and center Boyd Gordon. “Boyd has had a good camp,” Hakstol said. “He got in game action the first time [Tuesday]. As you’d expect, he did a real good job within his role of starting with faceoffs and the responsible style of play he has.” … Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz will be the goalies. Both will compete for starting time with the Phantoms this season.