Cooking? Flyers camp about more than hockey

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Cooking? Flyers camp about more than hockey

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Flyers director of player development Ian Laperriere remembers what it was like to live on his own as a young hockey player with little life experience.

Among a whole host of challenges associated with living independently for the first time was one very simple issue: getting food on the dinner table.

“I didn’t know -- I still don’t know -- how to cook anything,” Laperriere said. “But I didn’t know how to cook anything at that age. ... I didn’t know at 17, 18. Now I know by experience. Sometimes it’s an easy choice to make for them that will make a big difference at the end of the day. Like we tell those guys, everybody’s good, but that little difference -- nutrition, training -- is going to make you be in the NHL instead of the guy next to you.”

And so at this week’s Flyers development camp, which wrapped up Thursday evening, Laperriere added a different kind of off-ice training to the schedule. Split into two groups, the campers first toured the ACME Market down the street from Skate Zone with team dietician Amy Kaminski.

“We took them through the grocery store to show them how to shop the perimeter of the store and make better options with their food choices,” Kaminski said. “So if they were going to choose yogurt for example, that they had a low-fat yogurt versus a higher-fat yogurt.”

Kaminski spent about 45 minutes educating the prospects and answering questions like whether almond milk is better than cow’s milk, or if whole eggs are preferable to egg whites, despite the cholesterol.

“They like milk, and yogurt’s good,” said Sam Morin, the Flyers’ 2013 first-round pick, when asked what he took away from the experience. “Meat, protein -- we need protein. We need fat sometimes, too. Not a lot, just a little bit. And a lot of vegetables.”

The culinary education didn’t end there. Later, the Flyers’ prospects took a cooking class at a caterer nearby the Wells Fargo Center. That experience was received very well, Laperriere said.

“They told them how they prepared [the meal] -- grilling instead of using oil, smart little tips,” Laperriere said. “... I don’t want those kids to cook a seven-course meal, just common sense. Because a lot of those guys are going to be on their own next year. They went from mommy and daddy to billet family and now it’s just you.

“If you play in the minors, you can’t eat at the restaurant every day. And that’s probably the worst place you want to eat, with all the salt and all in it. You want those kids to be able to cook for themselves.”

This year’s camp was the third Laperriere has spearheaded, and was focused on the idea of its participants learning what it takes to “be a pro.” That explains the on-ice sessions, as well as the nutrition classes and a sort-of sex education session the entire group sat through.

The latter two were both firsts for the camp this year.

“Being a pro, you’re on your own,” he said. “Some of those kids might play when they’re 21 or 22. No girlfriend, their own apartment. It’s a big change. And I’ve been through it. I was lucky enough I had two older guys living with me. But those kids might be alone or living with other guys that don’t know how to cook or don’t know what to do as a pro.

“I think we covered, not everything, obviously, but we covered a lot and every year I try to bring something different and [trainer] Jimmy McCrossin tries to bring something different. We’re all in it together.”

NHL Playoffs: Rangers ride Zuccarello to 3-1 win in series-clinching Game 6

NHL Playoffs: Rangers ride Zuccarello to 3-1 win in series-clinching Game 6

NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello scored twice in the second period and the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Game 6 on Saturday night to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Derek Stepan also scored and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots to help New York get past the first round for the fifth time in six years. The Rangers won three straight after falling behind 2-1 to beat Montreal for the ninth time in 16 postseason series.

The Rangers will face the winner of the Ottawa-Boston series, which the Senators lead 3-2.

Alexei Emelin scored for Montreal and Carey Price finished with 20 saves. The Canadiens, winners of the Atlantic Division after missing the playoffs last year, were bounced from the postseason by the Rangers for the second time in four years. In 2014, it was in the conference finals (see full recap).

Paajarvi's OT goal gives Blues 4-3 win to oust Wild in 5
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Magnus Paajarvi scored at the 9:42 mark in overtime, giving the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory over Minnesota on Saturday in Game 5 of their playoff series, eliminating the Wild.

The Blues advanced to play Nashville in the second round.

Jake Allen made 34 saves for the Blues, who led 2-0 and 3-1 before a furious rally by the Wild to try to keep their season alive forced the extra frame.

Paajarvi's first career playoff goal gave Blues coach Mike Yeo the satisfaction of beating the team that fired him a little over a year ago.

Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker scored to bring the Wild back from their second two-goal hole, a deficit that held past the midpoint of the third period (see full recap).

Flyers excited for full-season upgrade of Valtteri Filppula

Flyers excited for full-season upgrade of Valtteri Filppula

As the Flyers packed up for the offseason much earlier than they had hoped, the focus started shifting to the outlook for 2017-18.

There was some optimism provided by Valtteri Filppula.

It wasn't anything he said. Instead, it was what he did in 20 games.

Make that a full sample size and the Flyers are excited about the possibilities.

Filppula, a well-rounded, 33-year-old center, was acquired at the March 1 trade deadline in the Mark Streit deal. He added five goals and three assists in his 20 games.

"I felt like later in the year, we had more bullets in our gun," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said last week as the team held exit interviews and cleanout day. "(Jordan) Weal comes in and does a good job. Filppula comes in and really gives us stability. Really upgraded our top nine. So when you're talking 5-on-5 play, just to depend on five or six guys, all of a sudden you have nine guys you can count on."

The Flyers were 27th in the NHL with 128 goals at 5-on-5 -- a significant factor in their postseason absence.

But Filppula should bring more than simply a 5-on-5 boost.

The Flyers desperately needed depth at the center position to relieve some pressure from Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. Filppula, who came from the Lightning and played seven seasons with the Red Wings -- winning a Stanley Cup in 2008 -- is a sound matchup center and plays on the penalty kill, too.

"I think with Fil coming in this year, it really helped our depth," Giroux said. "He brings a lot to the team. He kills penalties, power plays, very good defensively and he's a smart player. When you bring a guy in like that, you kind of get excited a little bit."

From Filppula's first game on March 2 to the end of the regular season, the Flyers scored 56 goals, 12th most in the NHL over that span and 2.80 per game -- both improvements from their ranking of 21th on the full season and 2.59 per game.

"Now that we feel like we have nine guys that are legit top-nine forwards," Hextall said, "we've got good balance."

Couturier saw immediate benefits when the Flyers acquired Filppula. Couturier started playing with Dale Weise and Brayden Schenn, which turned out to be the team's best line combination to finish the regular season.

"I think it just brought some depth to our lineup," Couturier said of Filppula acquisition. "I had the chance to play after that with Schenn and Weiser and we just found chemistry right away and things went really well."

It provided head coach Dave Hakstol greater flexibility.

"The addition of Val Filppula to our group up front made our group of forwards better," Hakstol said. "Not just his presence, which I think he's an outstanding hockey player, a good hockey player and a real good veteran, but it just allowed some of the others to come together. I think there's real substance there."

The Flyers hope it shows with a full season of Filppula.

"I think when Filppula came in, the balance that seemed to come with him entering our lineup helped us both with and without the puck," Hakstol said. "Will that cohesion help us generate more offensively on an 82-game basis, not just a short-term basis? I think the answers to those things are yes."