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.

Flyers' poor division record biggest factor in being out of playoff picture

Flyers' poor division record biggest factor in being out of playoff picture

PITTSBURGH -- There's a bit of tragic irony to how the Flyers' season will end over the next two-plus weeks.
 
They have seven games left on the schedule. Six of them are teams residing in the Metro Division. Tuesday's opponent, Ottawa, is the lone exception.
 
There are so many reasons why the Flyers are scrambling now, clinging to the desperate belief they can still make the playoffs -- mathematically, they're alive -- against all rational thought.
 
They're six points behind Boston for the second wild-card spot, but they still have to hurdle Carolina, Tampa Bay and the Islanders just to get to Boston.
 
Yet one major reason for the Flyers' dilemma seems pretty obvious: They've been simply awful in head-to-head play against their own division.
 
The Flyers have a winning record against both divisions in the Western Conference.
 
That's not the case, however, in the East where the Metro Division is the only division with three teams over 100 points and where the Flyers have failed miserably to challenge from within.
 
Sunday's 6-2 rout of the Penguins in Pittsburgh left the Flyers with a poor 9-13-2 record against the Metro. It's the only division they have a losing record against.
 
Last season, Dave Hakstol's group finished 14-10-6 against their own division. That was a critical factor in enabling the Flyers to make the playoffs.
 
"We know where we are in the standings and it's not going to be easy to make the playoffs," Jakub Voracek said. "We all know that. We have to work off results of the other teams and try to play relaxed and loose."
 
Against the Eastern Conference overall, the Flyers are close to .500 (21-22-4) yet realize they should be better.
 
These two records represent a very large reason why the Flyers are sitting on the outside looking in as the playoffs near.
 
Right now, at least four clubs from the Metro -- half the division -- will make the playoffs. That says a lot about why games within your section are so pivotal at season's end.
 
"The numbers don't lie," Hakstol admitted on Sunday. "It's a tough road every single night. You've got to do a good job within your division, within your conference.
 
"We've played a lot of tight, hard games. The reality is, we're a number of points out of the playoffs and those points within your division are very valuable."
 
It's something the Flyers have to greatly improve upon next season if they want to be sitting in a playoff spot a month before the season ends instead of playing catch-up when the odds are hopelessly against them.
 
Pens killers
Every team in the NHL has a couple players who have fairly impressive career numbers against other teams.
 
Voracek averages better than a point against the Penguins. His goal Sunday gave him 17 goals and 34 points in 32 career games against Pittsburgh.
 
Voracek admitted after the game he's not sure why.
 
Claude Giroux also has excellent numbers against the Pens -- his two assists in the win left the Flyers' captain with 41 points (14 goals) in 40 career games vs. Pittsburgh.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere has been around a fraction as long as either Giroux or Voracek -- eight career games vs. the Pens -- yet has two goals and nine points in those games.
 
Brayden Schenn doesn't average a point a game against the Pens, but he's close. His assist on Sunday left the winger/center with 20 points (8 goals) in 26 games.
 
The only Flyer who has solid numbers against Pittsburgh and didn't make Sunday's score sheet was Wayne Simmonds. He has 23 points in 28 games. 

Dave Hakstol: Travis Konecny on 4th line 'makes sense in a lot of respects'

Dave Hakstol: Travis Konecny on 4th line 'makes sense in a lot of respects'

PITTSBURGH -- The curious line juggling of Travis Konecny continued Sunday night.

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol again started Konecny on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare's fourth line with Chris VandeVelde, but just as he did in Columbus, Hakstol moved the rookie around.

This was Konecny's third straight game off Valtteri Filppula's unit with Jakub Voracek at the start. The obvious message to Konecny seems to be: Get yourself into a more defensive-minded role early and then let the offense come to you.

Konecny has made some defensive strides.

"It makes sense in a lot of respects," Hakstol said of the move to Bellemare's unit. "He's playing with two players with a lot of structure. He excels in that type of setting.

"If you look at [Saturday], he can bounce around the lineup with different lines and we used him that way. He didn't just play with his two linemates. He moved around a little bit. He's very effective in that role when we're able to get him out there. He gives us a good boost, a good push."

Against Columbus on Saturday, Konecny played on two units with Sean Couturier -- one featuring Jordan Weal and the other, Dale Weise. He also played a few shifts with Filppula and Wayne Simmonds.

The same thing happened Sunday in the Flyers' 6-2 rout of the Penguins (see game story). Konecny finished with an assist and plus-1 in just 8:02. He is one of the very, very few Flyers who is an even. Most are minus.

Konecny, who just turned 20, and Weal, 24, gave the Flyers a lift on Sunday. Weal had a goal and an assist in 13:06.

"No matter who it is contributing, everyone is excited for everybody," Konecny said. "A lot of guys put up some numbers tonight and contributed. It was a good team effort. That's what we want to see."
 
The Flyers were so relaxed it makes you wonder if the pressure of trying to make the playoffs is gone because their odds are so stacked against them.
 
"We’re at that point where you just need to win and just show up," Konecny said. "There's nerves in the back of your mind. We're pretty loose and trying to enjoy it as much as we can going through a stressful time.
 
"We've handled it well. We played a good team, we knew they would push but we pushed harder."
 
Konecny said he's not fazed by the different line combinations he's a part of, often in the same period.
 
"It's not too bad," he said. "I kind of expected it going into a game. I know when I am playing with Belly and Vandy that throughout the game, there's going to be times like penalty kills come up and he'll fill me in with another line.
 
"At the start of the third [tonight], I filled in another line. I know it's going to come. I just expect it. I've played with pretty much everybody on the team. I'm comfortable out there."
 
Loose pucks
The six goals on the road against Pittsburgh last happened on Feb. 20, 2013, when the Flyers won, 6-5. ... Sunday was the Flyers' largest margin of victory in Pittsburgh since March 31, 2003, when they beat the Penguins, 6-1, at Mellon Arena. ... Weal picked up the second two-point game of his career -- both of which have taken place this month. ... Weise has three goals in his last seven games. ... Claude Giroux had two assists, and now has two goals and eight assists for 10 points in 13 games this month.