Hockey is back, gang! We had a game last night so it really is back! The Flyers hosted the Islanders at the PPL Center in Allentown for their annual rookie game, and let me tell you, this game had EVERYTHING.
A slow start for the Flyers while they were feeling things out. Getting out shot handily but still getting scoring thanks to their top line/players and some power play production. Nearly a murder. And then sprinkle in a bit of trouble in transition and some feeding plays from below the goal line and you’ve got quite the mix!
If you didn’t watch any of the 2018-19 Lehigh Valley Phantoms, I’m here to tell you, you just did.
And this is one that also ended in pretty appropriately Flyers fashion, with the team blowing a comfortable lead to lose 5-4 in a shootout. Because we sure do love continuity.
But despite all of that, this was a fun one, and it’s good to be back. Let’s take a few moments to talk about the standouts in this game.
We talked about this when we recapped our first two days of rookie camp, and the feeling is still the same, but Myers just looks too good to be here. He looked dynamic in this this game, pretty sharp defensively, good in transition, and noticeable in activating offensively and helping to generate chances. And it’s that last part that brought him perhaps his flashiest moment of the night. Just check out this pass setting up German Rubtsov’s first goal of the night. Just wow.
Myers finds Rubtsov for the opening goal. pic.twitter.com/8KyCQwqbDL— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) September 11, 2019
And really, we aren’t surprised by all of this. Scott Gordon said it himself in his presser after the game, “he’s an NHL player.” Of course he’s going to look dominant out there. And we can still love every minute of it.
We only saw him for the first half of last night’s game, but Sandstrom got the start and he looked very good in his time on the ice. It was kind of straight into the fire for him, as the Flyers got off to a bit of a slow start, found themselves a bit hemmed into their own end, and let the Islanders take the early lead in shots. They very well could have found themselves in a hole early, but Sandstrom did well to bail them out, coming up with a couple of nifty saves.
When I talked to him during exit interviews last spring, he said the thing he wanted to work on the most was his quickness in his reads, because of how much faster the game is in North America, and how many more shots you see, and it seems already apparent that this work is paying off. Sandstrom didn’t look like a goalie still adjusting to North American play. He looks like he’s figuring it out already.
We mentioned him already a few points back, so let’s just circle right on back to Rubtsov, because he really did have himself a night. He picked up two goals for himself (the second you can see below), and just seemed to be buzzing. He and Joel Farabee looked sharp together on the penalty kill, and were even able to create a nice shorthanded chance. Rubtsov’s offense really stood out in this one, but it didn’t come at the expense of his defensive play. And, what’s more, he did all of this without being on that top line with the big guns, if you will. He was driving his own line.
Strome ➡️ Vorobyev ➡️ Rubtsov pic.twitter.com/JLAjGdAqXX— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) September 12, 2019
And it’s interesting to think that not too long ago, the much of the conversation around Rubtsov was something to the effect of “he may be pushing for a roster spot in the relatively near future, but he probably needs a bit more time in the AHL to develop, after missing all that time with the injury,” and now, that’s not really the case. More and more he’s looking like he’s NHL ready already, and making a stronger case for himself to make the team out of camp.
And speaking of NHL readiness, Vorobyev is (again) making his case for being that as well. He didn’t have the flashiest game overall (that assist on Rubtsov’s second goal was nice though), but if you’re looking for players who showed flashes of looking too good to be there, Vorobyev was one. He really stood out, interestingly enough, on special teams more than at 5-on-5. His passing on the power play was sharp, and, as always, his defensive work on the penalty kill was solid. But what stood out the most about his play, perhaps, was his strength on the puck—once he had it, it was very hard to push him off, and he kind of just had the freedom to do whatever he wanted with it.
And maybe the way last season’s looks panned out for him have left something of a sour taste in our mouths. That’s fair. But it shouldn’t mean that he shouldn’t get another chance to show what he can really do.
Just… that whole top line
Is this cheating? Probably a little bit, yeah. But that top line of Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee, and Isaac Ratcliffe was just as good as advertised, you guys. It’s fun to see a line with that much skill in action, and they really were a delight to watch. They were good in transition, able to get the puck into the offensive zone in order to get some nice cycling going. They had a couple of hiccups, a couple of plays that ended up being too cute, and their timing a bit off, but they were trying things. They were generating pressure and chances, and the Islanders were having trouble stopping them. All that was missing for them was the finish.
They had a couple of nice individual plays, but probably the best of those singular efforts was this moment, when Ratcliffe drew a penalty, was having none of this nonsense, but decided not to end this poor guy’s life that night. Which he very well could have.
Okay that’s enough joking. Before we move on, I do want to take a moment here to touch on Farabee and his size/physical situation. Because we saw him get hit once in the third period and be really stung by it, holding his right arm tenderly and hunched over, heading to the bench. And for me, this was my biggest worry, that he would get roughed up a bit and he’d get himself hurt. Because, yes, he’s gotten a bit bigger and stronger, but he still isn’t quite at the level he needs to be, and I think we got a taste of that last night. The skill isn’t an issue, but the big adjustment is going to come around that physicality.
As probably BSH’s biggest David Kase fan, I want to take a moment to just talk about this goal. His night wasn’t perfect, but he did bring a bit of flash in this play.
David Kase with the steal and the snipe! pic.twitter.com/9CUR9ZqdAL— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) September 12, 2019
And that’s all we’ve got! We’ll see some of these kids back in action on Monday when the preseason officially kicks off. It’s happening, gang! Let the camp battles begin.