The real purpose of Flyers development camp


The real purpose of Flyers development camp

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The real purpose of the Flyers' development camp, which began last week and ended Tuesday, is to take teenagers and teach them in what it’s like to be a professional athlete, while giving them a blueprint for the future that includes high-level training and nutrition.

They even had yoga lessons.

There were 29 players at the camp -– 27 were their own, and two were invitees.

“Training has come a long way,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said. “The specifics of it and doing it properly and doing it right. [Strength and conditioning coach] Ryan Podell is very good at what he does. He puts in place what is best for each player. Every player is different in what he needs to train and work on. Those guys are just learning that stuff.”

It’s not enough to rise each morning and go to the gym each day like players do once they retire. There’s an entire regimen that has to be followed.

“It’s not just about working out,” Berube said. “It’s about training properly and putting in the time. It’s just as important what you are doing off the ice as well as on the ice.”

The players spent time with a nutritionist, who also took them shopping to teach them what kind of food to buy and how to read labels and check for calories, fat content and so forth.

As for the on-ice competition, this was more about introductory drills and seeing how the Flyers operate as an organization.

“I thought they had very good focus the whole time,” Berube said. “There’s a lot of good, young skill out there, which is important to have in our system.

“The game is about skill and speed. We got some real good prospects and it’s nice that [the Phantoms] are nice and close, too [in Allentown].”

Training camp
The dates for the Flyers' full training camp in September have not yet been decided.

One thing to watch is the number of players invited.

One of the reasons why last year’s camp was so awful –- club chairman Ed Snider called it the worst training camp in team history -- was because there were too many players.

The Flyers had 68 players in camp last fall. Instead of focusing on their NHL product, they spent far too much time focused on immersing prospects and AHL players with their roster and trying to see how each and every player fit in the system, rather than preparing the club for the NHL season.

It’s no wonder the Flyers got off to a horrendous 1-7 start that cost Peter Laviolette his job.

Snider said in May the sheer number of players involved, and how the camp was structured, needed to be readdressed.

“I don’t know the numbers right now,” Berube said. “I have to sit down with [general manager] Ron [Hextall] and go over that. It’s important to have your people at camp. You don’t want to leave people out. I understand what you are saying, a smaller group. You can get more done and get your work in, which is important during camp. ... You have to get the work in, but it has to be done properly.”

What does Berube remember from his first camp?

“I had three fights in my first scrimmage,” he said.

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Many, though not all hockey games, have a tipping point or pivotal moment that factors into the outcome.
Sometimes it’s obvious what it was and when the moment occurred. Other times, it’s overshadowed by something else on the ice.
Ask the Flyers which moment would define their come-from-behind 4-3 shootout victory over Buffalo on Tuesday and the response will be virtually unanimous: when Dmitry Kulikov leveled Jakub Voracek with a high hit that made contact to the head in the third period.
Voracek was forced off the ice under the NHL’s concussion protocol.
That hit incensed the Flyers, who went on to score two power-play goals and tie the game, 3-3. The comeback was on.
Yet there was a less obvious but significant point that happened late in the second period, and it concerned goalie Steve Mason.
Matt Moulson had given Buffalo a 3-0 lead on Michal Neuvirth at 15:43, when Flyers coach Dave Hakstol elected to make a goalie switch.
Rather than call a simple timeout to buy Mason some warm-up time and allow his team to collect itself on the bench, Hakstol challenged the goal, claiming “goalie interference.”
Replays won’t show any direct interference on the shot itself. Neuvirth was speared several seconds before the play developed.
Hakstol knew the goal would likely not be overturned, but his strategy was to buy time for Mason and his team. By using a challenge, he knew the review process would take a lot longer than the 60-second timeout.
Either way, he was going to use his only timeout.
“You know what, I think we needed a timeout at that time, anyway,” Hakstol said coyly. “Pretty low probability of it being successful. Everything worked out well in the end.”
Mason appreciated what his coach did, too. Buying extra time for you?
“Yeah, probably,” Mason replied. “Regardless of the situation, you’re sitting on the bench, you know? You’re not really gauged as much as when you’re playing, obviously. So, you just try and ramp things up as quickly as possible.”
Mason had two saves in that shortened period, five in the third period and one in the overtime to register his second victory.
“There’s a never-quit attitude in this room,” he said. “We showed in Chicago — we were just talking about that. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to close that one out.
“But guys have a belief that you get one [moment] and it comes. [Travis Konecny] got us going with his first NHL goal, which is great. The guys really pushed to capitalize on their chances.”

Flyers Notes: Travis Konecny sparks power play with 1st NHL goal

Flyers Notes: Travis Konecny sparks power play with 1st NHL goal

The kid finally has his first NHL goal.

Travis Konecny scored at 4:30 of the third period (see video) during the Flyers' 4-3 shootout win over Buffalo on Tuesday night (see story).  

His was the first of three power-play goals to erase a 3-0 deficit and get the Flyers into overtime.

First markers are always that much more special when they make a difference in a comeback victory, such as this one with the Flyers in a brutal stretch of six games in nine days.

“I am just excited that it happened,” Konecny said. “But the thing for me that was more exciting was coming back after that 3-0 [deficit] and an overall exciting night for us.”

The three power-play goals were a season high for the Flyers.

“We got going those two power plays ... our power plays set a tone,” Konecny said. “When that gets going, it makes it hard for the other team to stop us.

“It’s awesome because we know what they can do [on the top power-play unit]. They have been sticking with it and fighting the puck, whatever it’s been the past couple of games, but you know what they are capable of — you can see it the past couple of years. 

“You knew it was coming and tonight is the perfect night to get it going and I am sure that they are going to keep rolling with it.”

Schultz sits
The decision to sit 15-year veteran blueliner Nick Schultz to get Radko Gudas back into the lineup wasn’t easy but it made sense on several levels. Gudas had been suspended for six games.

First, Schultz doesn’t play on the power play, whereas Andrew MacDonald carries heavy minutes with the power play and penalty kill.

Brandon Manning? Not happening. He’s been the Flyers' best defenseman this season. Mark Streit? Doesn’t work because he quarterbacks the second-unit PP and is essentially teaching that duty to rookie Ivan Provorov.

“It’s real tough,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “It’s part of the business and [Schultz has] done an excellent job. He’s always very well-prepared.

“We talked about what’s best for our team and we feel like Gudy going in, especially on a back-to-back, gives us fresh legs and a fresh body coming back into the lineup.”

Hakstol recently has had to switch around his defensive pairs to get more defensive coverage and consistency on the ice. For instance, moving Provorov from Streit to Manning.

He discounted Schultz’s age (34) as a true factor in the decision.

“I think the more flexibility you have, the better, whether it be for rest or for the injury situations,” Hakstol said. “First and foremost, I think we’re still looking for the true consistency that we need through our entire team, but certainly your D pairs are a big part of that. 

“Before we start getting to a comfort level of guys playing with different people, first we have to find true consistency. We’ve been pretty good, but we’ve had stretches where the consistency needs to improve, as well.”