Hey, family! Been a while. How’s it gooooing? Pleasantries aside, hockey is back! It was great being back at the Voorhees Skate Zone to take in some training camp action. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the first day, but I took in all the second day had to offer and came away with a few thoughts.
1. Carter Hart was the best goalie there today
Before everyone freaks out, no, this is not me saying Hart should be here opening night. It’s the second practice of a four week camp filled with a lot of games. Hart will have plenty of time to prove himself. That said, specifically in regards to today’s practice, I felt Hart was the best goalie of the four in camp. He had a brief stint at the beginning of practice in 2 on 1 drills where he gave up some goals in a bunch. Soon after, he made a spread eagle kick save and the rest of the day was a treat to watch. He tracked the puck well through traffic on point shots, his rebound control was strong and his biggest save of the day came on a backdoor pass from Couturier to Giroux in a 3 on 2 drill in which he slid across beautifully and sprawled out to make a glove save. The very next sequence saw Giroux return the favor to Couturier who promptly deposited the puck into the net, almost as if to bring Hart back down to Earth, but overall it was hard not to come away impressed with the day Hart put together. He even stayed after practice to take some extra shots from Jordan Weal and TJ Brennan. Hart has a slim chance of making this roster just due to the sheer number of goalies set to be at the pro level this year, but if today was any indication of his preseason to come, he’s going to make it as difficult as possible for Hextall and the coaches to send him down.
2. Philippe Myers came to play
I feel like prospects go through phases during training camps as they mature. They tend to start out with almost an “aw shucks” attitude, like they’re just happy to be there and take it all in. Then maybe they come in feeling confident but are still missing some key elements to their game to get them over the top. Sometimes they feel the pressure and try too hard. Eventually they get to the point where they feel it’s their time. For Myers, based on today, he looks like he feels like it’s his time. Myers was confident in his movements, he was strong in board battles and rush situations and he seemed even more tactical in his decision making offensively. Coming into camp in great shape is a nice first step – he made it a point to finish first in his group for sprints this morning – but ultimately performance is what earns you a spot. Myers is off to a great start.
3. Misha Vorobyev got yelled at
It’s true. And frankly, it wasn’t unwarranted. The team was doing a 2 on 2 drill where the forwards entered the zone, the forward in the middle received a pass then curled back, switching with the forward along the wall who then went to the slot to receive a pass and shoot. Vorobyev received the pass, but rather than shooting he decided to pass back to his linemate. Coach Dave Hakstol stopped practice for a brief second to yell, “You gotta shoot the puck!” He’s not wrong, fam. As we all know, this was a trouble spot for the Flyers last year in terms of getting to the slot and then shooting from the slot. And it seems like Hakstol is making it a point of emphasis heading into this season. For what it’s worth, this was a mere blip on the radar for Vorobyev today. Overall solid showing and it’s worth noting that he participated in some extra PK system work after practice with Travis Konecny. It’ll be interesting to see if the Flyers roll that out in preseason.
4. Morgan Frost unit on point
The unit of Morgan Frost, Farmer in the Dale Weise and Michael House of Raffls put on a show today. No, really. They made at least three very pretty passing plays during drills that resulted in goals. They were one of the best if not the best three man unit out there today in my opinion. I wouldn’t say any of them particularly stood out individually, but as a unit, they were actually pretty fun to watch for most of the session.
5. The real Nolan Patrick has returned
Watching Nolan fly around the ice today had me harkening back to his 2015-16 season in Brandon when he was considered the consensus number one overall pick heading into his draft year. Patrick looks bigger, faster, and much more confident than he did at this time last year. He was looking to thread the needle on pass plays, get creative with his dekes in 1 on 1 situations and wasn’t afraid to show off his shot. It’s clear through the first two days that the coaching staff is looking to generate chemistry between Patrick, Jake Voracek and fellow #2 overall pick James van Riemsdyk. On paper, it seems like a trio destined for great things and with Patrick having a full off-season to be healthy and train, we could be in for a real treat this season.
6. Sean Couturier showing no ill effects
I’ll keep this one brief: Couturier looks pretty good out there. He doesn’t look hampered at all and he took part in every drill. At this point it’s likely mostly about conditioning for to get himself in game shape. Knock on wood, but I would be pretty surprised at this point if Couturier wasn’t able to suit up as the top line center on opening night.
So there you have it, my big takeaways from the second day of camp. No rest for the boys as they get ready for five games in six days to get preseason action kicked off, starting tomorrow at 1pm on the island. It shall be interesting to see how things unfold as we head into a big season for the orange and black.