Flyers, Lecavalier impressed by Sam Morin

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Flyers, Lecavalier impressed by Sam Morin

When the Flyers' rookie camp was at Skate Zone recently, the team's director of player personnel John Paddock remarked at how poised and beyond his years Samuel Morin looked on the ice.
 
“He makes plays that are pure hockey plays, which you don’t expect from an 18-year-old,” Paddock said.
 
People notice. And the team noticed, too, signing the young defenseman to an entry-level contract Tuesday.
 
Morin, who looks physically like a young Chris Pronger on the ice -- his hero -- has been nothing short of impressive in two camps now -- rookie and the full Flyers camp.
 
The Flyers' first-round pick at No. 11 last June in the NHL draft had a very solid first exhibition game Monday in the 4-3 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center.
 
“He was really composed out there with the puck,” said coach Craig Berube, who handled the split-squad in Philly. “That’s the thing that jumped out at me. Playing in his first exhibition in the NHL, I thought he was tremendous. He did some really good things with the puck.
 
“Hanging onto it, not panicking. He looked really good on the power play. Made a nice play to Vinny [Lecavalier] for a goal on the power play.”
 
Talk about impressive feats, stripping a Cap of the puck in the offensive zone, then whirling around and feeding Lecavalier at the right circle with a long, cross-ice pass.
 
Lecavalier one-timed it for a goal.
 
“A great pass by Sam,” Lecavalier said, adding that you can tell immediately this kid has NHL ability. “He's strong. You see 18-year-olds come in and see that they are not really ready. Their strength is not there.
 
“He’s tall (6-6) and you know he’s going to get bigger. You can tell on the ice. He has a strong stick. When he hits guys, he’s solid out there. He’s making great plays.
 
“It’s pretty rare when you look at NHL defensemen right now, his size and his toughness and what he can bring to the table. He’s going to have a very long career.”
 
Throughout the game, Morin was impressive with the puck on his stick, logging 23:14 in ice time, of which 4:41 was on the power play and 2:15 shorthanded.
 
“They want to give me a chance,” Morin said. “I got out on the power play with [Mark] Streit and Vinny. It was more easy for me and we talked a lot. He told me where to go.”
 
The Flyers' personnel department believes that Morin is a legit impact defenseman. If this were last season in which the Flyers were desperate for blue liners, you could make a case for him making the roster.
 
Given the Flyers are stocked on defense, the more prudent thing to do is send Morin back to junior and allow him to develop all around.
 
The organization is leaning that direction, too, but at the same time, its finding reasons to keep him here much like the Flyers did with rookie Luca Sbisa back in 2008, another first-round pick, taken at No. 19 that summer.
 
“I’m here to try to make the team [now],” Morin said. “From the rookie game to now, I try to make a good impression. First, I will try to get a contract ... just work hard and see what happens.”
 
Morin showed his physical side, too. Not that he was involved in any of the three fights in the game, but he picked up an elbowing penalty late in the third period.
 
Morin was paired with Streit in the game and got ample power play time with Lecavalier’s unit that included Michael Raffl and Wayne Simmonds, who were also a line in the game.
 
“What I learned?” Morin asked. “Just experience. Always move your feet. Execution is quicker.”
 
Archie to represent Snider Hockey
Kaseir Archie, a participant of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, has been selected to speak at the Childhood Obesity Summit in Washington, DC, this Friday, along with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
 
Archie is a Kensington resident and participates in Snider Hockey's After School program at the Scanlon Rink. Archie is on the Junior Advisory Council of the National Alliance for a Healthier Generation.
 
It has been estimated that one in three American children are either overweight or obese.

Connor McDavid, Oilers' speed, skill present Flyers with 'real good challenge'

Connor McDavid, Oilers' speed, skill present Flyers with 'real good challenge'

VOORHEES, N.J. — They are among the very best – and highest scoring — lines in the NHL this season.
 
And they’re gunning for the Flyers on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
 
Connor McDavid’s unit with Milan Lucic and Leon Draisaitl have a combined 30 goals and 78 points worth of offense. 
 
Among them, the lightning quick McDavid leads the NHL with 36 points. All 11 of his goals are even strength. 
 
He doesn’t have a single power-play goal, but is tied for the league lead with several players, including Claude Giroux, with 10 power-play assists.
 
You can expect to see Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s unit with Chris VandeVelde and Dale Weise against this line with defenseman Ivan Provorov drawing McDavid for the first time this season.
 
“Speed and skill that Edmonton has up front presents a real good challenge for our team,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “We have to be better with the puck tomorrow. 
 
“We didn’t do enough when we had the puck. Gave it up a little too easily and because of that, you end up playing defense a lot of the night and that’s what happened last night to us.”
 
Bellemare, who had his share of forward battles with Jaromir Jagr in Tuesday, likes to analyze the matchups against McDavid.
 
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Bellemare said of the 19-year-old McDavid. “It’s tough not to be excited when playing against a guy who plays like this. He competes every second he is on the ice. That line is an impressive line.”
 
The Flyers better have some bad, choppy ice to slow McDavid down. Edmonton has some of the fastest ice in the league and the Oilers use it to their full advantage. 
 
Asked of McDavid’s tendencies, Bellemare said, “Is that a tendency? To be super fast?”
 
Yes it is. 
 
“When you play against them, he is a kid who is freaky fast right from the start,” Bellemare said. “Against that line, you saw [against Buffalo] that everyone knows how fast he is and he still had two breakaways.”
 
Which means the Flyers need to watch their turnovers, especially in the neutral zone where McDavid can go 60 feet in a flash.
 
“Even blue line to the top of the circle, you can’t turn the puck over,” Bellemare said. “Or he’s gone. This is a tendency we have to be careful of. All of the ice, you can’t give him any time or space. The less time you give him, the bigger chance you have to frustrate a player like this.”
 
Bellemare did some talking with Jagr a couple times in Tuesday’s game. So did Provorov. Bellemare says it helps to add psychology to the mix.
 
“You try to be in his face,” Bellemare said. “If you can win that battle against that line and our first line can win the battle against their fourth line, then it’s a win-win situation. I was trying to be in [Jagr’s] face.”
 
Jagr actually got angrier at Provorov and it showed with his hooking calls. But when Bellemare and Jagr went into the corner, Jagr got testy with his stick there as well.
 
“He was trying to give it to me a little harder,” Bellemare said. “Exactly what I need. If he is less focused on the puck, then maybe I have a chance to win that puck.”
 
McDavid’s focus will be solely on the puck.
 
“McDavid has been playing some pretty good hockey,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “They’re a high-tempo team. A smart team. We’ve got to be ready.”
 
Loose pucks
Boyd Gordon came off long term injured reserve onto the active roster to give the Flyers 13 forwards. In doing that, Matt Read (oblique pull) went on injured reserve. … Defenseman Michael Del Zotto will sit against the Oilers while Radko Gudas returns from an illness. Gudas will be paired with Mark Streit, as Ivan Provorov remains with Andrew MacDonald for now. … Steve Mason, who did not practice Wednesday, will start in goal.

Ivan Provorov passes latest rookie test by shutting down Jaromir Jagr

Ivan Provorov passes latest rookie test by shutting down Jaromir Jagr

VOORHEES, N.J. — Maybe he saw some old video of how Chris Therien did it.
 
Or maybe Ivan Provorov just shrugged his 19-year-old shoulders and figured he’d do it his way.
 
Whatever the Flyers' rookie defenseman did, he shut down the ageless Jaromir Jagr during Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime victory against the Florida Panthers. 
 
Just like Therien used to do back in the day. 
 
Provorov frustrated Jagr into taking penalties. And when he wasn’t in the box for hooking the rookie, you could visibly see Jagr’s frustration across his face.
 
At one point, they were talking to each other on the ice. A Russian and a Czech. What was said?
 
“It stays in the game,” Provorov said with a smile Wednesday.
 
Provorov said he didn’t spend time watching a ton of video.
 
“We did our pre-scout in the morning,” he said. “That was it.”
 
Provorov, with help from centerman Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, held Jagr to one shot. His teammates were impressed.
 
“Unbelievable, a 19-year-old kid going against Jaromir Jagr,” Wayne Simmonds said. “I think he did a pretty good job. 
 
“I think he has done a great job all year long and he is only going to get better. If you watch him play, he is getting better and better, not every game but every shift.”
 
Provorov had an assist and two blocked shots, including a critical block on Reilly Smith that could have been a game-winner in overtime.
 
“Well we haven’t used him a lot in the 3-on-3 but we felt that it was time,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “Again, coming off of a real solid night where he’s playing against really good players all night long, he continued that right through the OT. 
 
“The impressive thing on that play is the read that he made to make that block … I haven’t looked at it on the replay or on tape yet. But I think that Mase might have been over on it but that play that Provy made was potentially a game saving play right there.”
 
Provorov doesn’t make flashy plays. He just makes the steady play every time he needs to. At season’s start, he was struggling to get his shot off without being blocked. Now he finds space along the blue to better position himself to get his shot through. He thinks before he reacts.
 
Behind the net, he is one of the few Flyers defensemen who almost never loses a puck battle. It’s often hard to believe he’s as young as he is.
 
“He moves so well and makes good reads, he’s a very intelligent player,” Andrew MacDonald said. “He has great poise with the puck, and not just for a 19-year-old, but for any aged player. 
 
“Defensively he always seems to be in the right positions and communicates well. We were fortunate to have some time together in camp, and a few games. I feel like we picked up where we left off the past few games.”
 
Jagr’s assets are size, strength — especially his lower core — and a skill set of moves without blinding speed.
 
Thursday will present a new challenge for Provorov: Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, the NHL’s leading scorer with 36 points. McDavid is all about youth and raw speed. 
 
“They’re different players, but it doesn’t matter,” Provorov said. “You take away time and space. Don’t give him time to get a lot of speed.”
 
This is another learning experience for Provorov. In a different age category. Hakstol credits assistant coach Gord Murphy for bringing Provorov up to speed at the NHL level.
 
“I think Murph has done a really good job in managing that progression along, most importantly, with Provy, managing it," Hakstol said.
 
“You can go back to the tell-tale sign of the tough night back in Chicago [third game]. That didn’t shake or rattle Provy in any way. He came back with pretty good determination the next day.
 
“You have to be an honest evaluator of your own game. I think Provy … whether it’s a real good night or a tough night, that allows you to keep an even keel and an even balance. I think that’s a real strength.”

Injury update
The Flyers on Wednesday placed left winger Matt Read on injured reserve and activated center Boyd Gordon. Gordon has been out since Nov. 3.