Philadelphia Flyers

Notes, quotes and tidbits from Flyers development camp: 3-on-3 tournament day

Notes, quotes and tidbits from Flyers development camp: 3-on-3 tournament day

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers Skate Zone parking lot was filled to the brim.

Among the fans, Tuesday was easily the most popular and heavily-attended day of Flyers development camp, as a 3-on-3 tournament brought a close to the on-ice portion of this year's youth gathering.

Wednesday wraps up development camp with the team's annual AAA Trial on the Isle in Stone Harbor, New Jersey — also a fun and fan-friendly event.

As for the 3-on-3 competition, the Flyers split a full sheet of ice in half, allowing two games to be played at once. That, along with other media availability during the action, makes it difficult to observe everything that happened on the ice.

But with that said, let's give you the highlights from what we saw and heard on the final day at Flyers Skate Zone.

German, German, German!
German Rubtsov, the Flyers' 2016 first-round pick, was head and shoulders above most of the 40 prospects in camp.

He was a treat to watch Tuesday.

The 19-year-old center looks like he already has NHL hands and control. He's nifty with the puck and put a pretty move on Carter Hart to score one of his three goals on the afternoon.

Rubtsov's team, which also featured Radel Fazleev and Tanner Laczynski, won the tournament. Here's the bunch celebrating.

Men among boys
While Flyers general manager Ron Hextall claims development camp is not for evaluation, it’s hard not to look at a couple players who are obviously ready to no longer be a part of it.

During the 3-on-3 tournament, defensemen Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers both looked far too advanced to be playing with players their ages. Sanheim was on Team Grey and Myers was on Team Black. When the two played against each other, it was a pleasure to watch.

Sanheim scored twice in about a minute against Team Black. He ripped a slap shot from 10-feet out on Felix Sandstrom and then tucked a rebound past Sandstrom. Overall, Sanheim scored four times. Myers scored just once but definitely looks above his age level.

Fresh wings
Matthew Strome possesses skills of a first- or second-rounder, but his skating flaws are what dropped him to the fourth round, where the Flyers snagged the winger at 106th overall last month.

Yes, Strome's skating will be a bit of a project, but he can do a lot of other things that jump out in a positive way. 

Strome put his stickhandling on display with a sweet goal on Hart.

Another player that showed his stuff was camp invite Ivan Kosorenkov, who scored a goal while also exhibiting quick skates and talented hands.

Don't be surprised to see him in September's training camp. Sure, development camp isn't for evaluation, but the undrafted winger showed that much at Flyers Skate Zone.

West Coast livin'
As is the life in minor league hockey, Hart is used to long bus rides.

With air travel permitted just for the WHL championship round, travel can be a grind. From Everett, Washington, to Brandon, Manitoba, it’s about a 21-hour drive without traffic.

“Some guys bring Xboxes, TVs in the back and you have a little bit of shelter,” Hart said. “We’re right on the coast there and [Brandon is] in the boonies. It’s a grilling bus ride, but it’s a good way to spend some time with your teammates. It’s a good way to come together.”

When asked Tuesday about Nolan Patrick, Hart said their paths haven’t crossed much.

“It’s a 20-, 25-hour bus ride if we go over there to play,” Hart said. “We only play them once a year. I've only played Nolan three times in my career. So I don’t really know him too well. He seems like a nice guy from when I met him and from what I’ve heard, he’s very skilled. 

“Well, he went second overall so he's definitely skilled. Seems like a down-to-earth guy and I think the Flyers are lucky to have a high-skilled prospect like him."

Patrick did not participate in on-ice activities during development camp after undergoing abdominal surgery June 13 but was at camp all five days.

Hakstol on Lindblom
Oskar Lindblom scored a goal and was impressive all camp.

You could really see his growth.

As a raw 2014 fifth-round pick, these development sessions have been important to the Swedish winger and now he's ready to push for a roster spot in September.

"I just think about it by myself, like fifth-rounder, I just felt like I can play and I can be on this level," Lindblom said last Friday. "So I'm just trying to push myself every day and be better."

Lindblom attracted the eyes of many at development camp. He'll have the eyes of Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol in training camp.

"As you look at some of the completeness of his game, when you look at the skill package — and let's be clear, it's just a skill package because we're not in a competitive situation here," Hakstol said Tuesday. "Even the 3-on-3 games, that's a half-ice 3-on-3 game. That's not the competitiveness that training camp will bring, but I like the maturity that I see in his game on the ice … and the same thing off the ice."

Enter Sandstrom
Three-on-three tournaments are not exactly goaltender-friendly, but Sandstrom was quite impressive.

Sandstrom had a bit of a rough go in the first game against Team White, allowing four goals. But from Game 2 on, he was solid. He made several nice stops from a 20-year-old goalie with no defense in front of him against Team Orange in the second game. For fans of goaltenders, the matchup that was most enticing was Team Black vs. Team Orange, when it was Sandstrom (Black) vs. Hart (Orange). For the record, Sandstrom shut out Hart's team, 4-0.

Who got the better on Tuesday in a totally meaningless tournament? Our pick would be Sandstrom.

Results and what's next
Here are the Flyers' official scoring results from the 3-on-3 tournament.

Olle Lycksell — 5
Travis Sanheim — 4
David Kase — 4
Nicolas Aube-Kubel — 3
Radel Fazleev — 3
German Rubtsov — 3
Linus Hogberg — 3
David Bernhardt — 2
Brendan Warren — 2
Maksim Sushko — 2
Wyatt Kalynuk — 2
Mark Friedman — 1
Cam Lee — 1
Oskar Lindblom — 1
Wade Allison — 1
Phil Myers — 1
Matthew Strome — 1
Noah Cates — 1
Isaac Ratcliffe — 1
David Drake — 1
Tanner Laczynski — 1
Ivan Kosorenkov — 1
Connor Bunnaman — 1
Derek Lodermeier — 1

And if you're interested in heading to the beach to see the prospects on Wednesday, here's the schedule.

Flyers suffer OT preseason loss to Bruins, but see strong first impression from Brian Elliott

Flyers suffer OT preseason loss to Bruins, but see strong first impression from Brian Elliott


BOSTON — The last time Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott started a game, things ended quickly and didn’t end well.

Starting for the Calgary Flames in Game 4 of a Western Conference first-round series last April against the Anaheim Ducks, Elliott gave up one soft goal on three shots and was pulled 5:38 into a 3-1 series-ending loss.

It was only preseason, but Elliott made a Flyers debut that helped him forget that lackluster performance and get off to a fresh start with his new team Thursday.

Elliott stopped all 18 shots he faced during his two periods on the ice in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden (see observations).

“Yeah, it felt pretty good,” Elliott said. “Just trying to see pucks and basically get acclimated in a game situation. We haven’t seen that in camp at all. So playing a game is fun, to get back in there, you forget how actually fun it is to play a game.”

The Flyers signed Elliott to a two-year, $5.5 million contract on July 1 for more than just fun. They want him to combine with Michal Neuvirth to give them the type of successful goaltending tandem they’ve lacked for a while.

Elliott, in turn, wants to prove they were wise to move on from Steve Mason and bring him in. Elliott had some highlights during his season with the Flames, including an 11-game winning streak and a 2.16 goals-against average and .927 save percentage over his last 21 games of the regular season. In the playoffs, he was a bust with an 0-3 record and .880 save percentage.

In addition to getting back into action, Elliott wanted to impress his new team.

“A little bit. You just want to play the same anyways, doesn’t matter what team you’re on or how long you’ve been with the guys,” he said. “But for sure when it’s your first time, you want to make a good impression. You only get one first impression, right. But it’s just a stepping stone, working towards that first game of the season here.”

The Flyers had several power plays early in the first period and Elliott wasn’t tested much until he gloved a shot from Bruins forward Anders Bjork on a 3-on-2 at 8:46.

After a television timeout, the Bruins put more pressure on the Flyers and Elliott remained sharp. He blocked away a point shot from Brandon Carlo and then gloved Bjork’s attempt on the rebound from the slot at 9:18.

Elliott made 10 saves in the first period.

During a power play early in the second period, Elliott had to be at his best as the Bruins kept the puck in the attacking zone for the first 90 seconds. Elliott made five saves during the penalty kill, including two difficult ones on Bruins center Patrice Bergeron from around the slot.

The Flyers' attack picked up the pace in the second half of the second period and took some of the heat off Elliott. He had earned the respite and then coach Dave Hakstol switched to Alex Lyon to start the third.

Hakstol has seen Elliott live up to the Flyers’ expectations so far in camp and in his preseason debut.

“I think he got in early and I just think I’ve seen every day at camp him kind of building his game,” Hakstol said. "I don’t think he tried to come in with a finished product on Day 1. I think he kind of started on the ground floor of building his game, obviously, after a good summer. And every day he seemed to ... kind of build his game. His last couple of days of practices have been really good, really clean and he carried that into the game tonight. So it’s a good start for him. It’s nice to see that.”

Flyers-Bruins preseason observations: Power play goes 0 for 9 in OT loss

Flyers-Bruins preseason observations: Power play goes 0 for 9 in OT loss


BOSTON — It's still early in preseason, so the Flyers have a lot of time to iron out their power-play problems.

And they have a lot of problems.

Even with their most veteran-laden lineup of the preseason on the ice against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, the Flyers went 0 for 9 on the power play and lost, 2-1, in overtime at TD Garden.

Assistant coach Kris Knoblauch had most of the Flyers’ weapons but the man-advantage didn’t score, didn’t threaten and did little to build momentum.

Rookie defenseman Travis Sanheim scored a 4-on-4 goal at 4:57 of the third period to make it 1-0. The Bruins answered at 6:39 with a goal by defenseman Paul Postma to tie it 1-1. Kenny Agostino scored the game-winner 3:20 into overtime, as the Flyers fell to 1-1-2 in preseason action.

On to the observations:

• The loss and the power-play struggles aside, the Flyers avoided one potential nightmare. Second-year forward Travis Konecny had to leave the game after just 18 seconds of first-period play. But he returned to action later in the period.

Konecny was hit late and high at the red line away from the puck by Bruins rookie forward Jesse Gabrielle just before the whistle came 18 seconds into the game. Konecny returned with a little more than four minutes remaining in the first period.

Konecny looked himself when he nearly scored in the final minute of the first period, but his redirection of a Sanheim pass on a 3-on-2 went wide of the Boston net.

Gabrielle, trying to make the Bruins as a bottom-six forward, should hear from the NHL department of player safety, although Konecny’s return might’ve gotten Gabrielle off the hook.

• Goaltender Brian Elliott made his Flyers preseason debut and made 18 saves on 18 shots through two periods before Alex Lyon replaced him at the start of the third (see story). Lyon made nine saves, including one on Anton Blidh on a 2-on-1 late in the third period and one on Zach Senyshyn on another 2-on-1 in overtime to preserve the 1-1 tie.

• Sanheim was strong at both ends throughout the game, getting active on offense even before the game. He made a big play to break up a 2-on-1 with a Flyers power play late in the second period. Sanheim could make it difficult for the Flyers to pick among their three rookies for two spots on defense. Of course if Brandon Manning isn’t ready to start the season, there could be three spots available.

• Despite practicing as a left winger on Tuesday, captain Claude Giroux made his preseason debut at center between Oskar Lindblom and Jakub Voracek.

Giroux looked himself throughout the night, both 5-on-5 and on special teams. Early in the second period he canceled out a Boston power play by drawing a holding penalty on Bruins defenseman Postma during a race to the puck in the Boston end. He was also in the box for Sanheim’s goal and just exiting the box when Postma scored for Boston.

Coach Dave Hakstol said Thursday morning he would like to test Giroux out on the wing during a game later in the preseason.

• Voracek made his preseason debut and had his skating legs early as he won a race with Bruins forward Blidh into the Boston zone and drew a slashing penalty with a drive to the net.

• The Flyers dodged a miscommunication in the first period shortly after the Gabrielle penalty expired. When Konecny’s linemates Michael Raffl and Sean Couturier jumped on the ice for their shift, no one jumped over the bench with them and the Flyers played with four skaters for about 10-12 seconds. The puck changed possession a couple times in safe areas of the ice. And one could say the strategy worked because during the next shift, Voracek drew a penalty.

• Flyers forward Colin McDonald nearly joined Konecny on the sidelines near the three-minute mark. Off a faceoff win, Andrew MacDonald’s slap shot hit his teammate. McDonald hobbled to the bench. The Flyers didn’t need any more friendly fire considering they were already without Konecny.

• Lindblom joined Giroux and Voracek on the Flyers’ first line and that carried over to the power play, where Lindblom was part of the first unit along with Giroux, Voracek, Ivan Provorov and Wayne Simmonds until late in the second period. After the Flyers' power play had gone 0 for 5, Hakstrol switched Lindblom with Valtteri Filppula and that seemed to jump-start the man advantage. The Flyers didn’t score but put more pressure on Tuukka Rask during their sixth power play.

• Thursday morning the Flyers reduced their roster by 18 players. Forwards Connor Bunnaman (Kitchener — OHL), Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville — QMJHL), Ivan Kosorenkov (Victoriaville — QMJHL), German Rubtsov (Chicoutimi — QMJHL), and goaltender Carter Hart (Everett — WHL) were returned to their junior teams.

Then the Flyers assigned forwards Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Radel Fazleev, Tyrell Goulbourne, Danick Martel, Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev; defensemen James de Haas, Mark Friedman, Maxim Lamarche, Phil Myers, Reece Willcox; and goaltenders Leland Irving and John Muse to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley (more on moves here).

Here’s a look at how the Flyers lined up to start the game:

Oskar Lindblom-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek
Michael Raffl-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Taylor Leier-Valtteri Filppula-Colin McDonald

Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas
Sam Morin-Andrew MacDonald
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg