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Takeaways from Day 1 of camp: Round-robin mentality, looking at lines, blue line banter

Day 1 of Training Camp provided some interesting tidbits from Alain Vigneault and the Flyers.

Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Training Camp is officially underway. The Philadelphia Flyers took the ice on Monday, and it felt pretty good to see the boys back in action.

The Flyers are looking to answer a few questions as Phase 3 rolls on, and there are a few roster decisions that need to be made. Monday’s day of camp provided some clues to solving the puzzle.

Here are three takeaways from Day 1 of Training Camp.

Vigneault’s mindset for the round-robin games

One of the more interesting tidbits from Day 1 of Training Camp was Alain Vigneault discussing his mindset regarding the round-robin tournament. As we know, the Flyers enter as the fourth-best team, but they have a chance at any of the top four seeds. They have nowhere to go but up.

Since the 24-team playoff was first discussed, there was some speculation that teams could use those three games as a buffer to prepare for the playoffs. Vigneault said that the Flyers will do just that.

“It’d be safe to say at this time that I intend on using more than 20 guys for those (round-robin) games. As important as they are, I’m going to look at different players in different situations during that time. It’s about finding out where guys are and then making the best decision for the team.”

Given the Flyers’ depth and the lineup decisions that will need to be made, it’s a smart move by Vigneault and Co. to use that time to mix and match.

“ If your intentions are going on a long playoff run, a lot of times there’s some battle days and some days where you need guys to step in and be able to chip in,” Vigneault said.

Vigneault was very open about the Flyers’ plan for the round-robin games, which makes me wonder if more teams might take that approach. Back in the middle of June, Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said he “absolutely could” rest players in the round robin. Cassidy also said that he thinks “with all the teams there’s going to be some sort of a preseason mentality worked in with how the lineups are constructed every game.”

Now, those round-robin games are still going to be treated as important. Going undefeated in the round-robin games won’t matter if the Flyers get bounced in the first or second round, and it won’t be the end of the world if the Flyers go winless. Vigneault is focused on the end goal: winning the Stanley Cup.

Finding the right lineup is important, and speaking of that...

An early look at the line combinations

It was only Day 1 of Training Camp, and things my change as soon as today, but the line combinations may give us a glimpse into Vigneault’s current thoughts regarding the lineup. It’s still very early, and the lines should be taken with a grain of salt, but you can’t help but read into the combinations.

The Flyers were split into two groups on Monday, and each group appeared to have a top-six line, bottom-six line, and line of guys who are working to get into the lineup.

Group A

Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk - Scott Laughton - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
German Rubtsov - Morgan Frost - Andy Andreoff

Group B

Joel Farabee - Kevin Hayes - Travis Konecny
Michael Raffl - Derek Grant - Tyler Pitlick
Connor Bunnaman - Nate Thompson - Carsen Twarynski

Those lines bode well for Farabee, who may be able to stick on the second line. The same goes for Aube-Kubel, who is with bonafide middle-six forwards on the third line.

On the other hand, Frost on a line with Rubtsov and Andreoff isn’t very promising. Thompson and his linemates also appears to be on the outside looking in.

The third lines in each group are interesting as well. Putting Frost with Rubtsov and Andreoff, instead of players more likely to see playing time in Bunnaman and Twarynski could mean something, or it could mean nothing. Perhaps Thompson is a step ahead of Frost due to his experience.

We’ll see if the lines change, as they very well could as early as today, but early indications are a forward lineup of:

Giroux - Couturier - Voracek
Farabee - Hayes - Konecny
JVR - Laughton - NAK
Raffl - Grant - Pitlick

Extras: Frost, Thompson

Those are four very good lines that the Flyers would be able to roll while having a few capable guys waiting in the wings.

A signing and a surgery on the blue line

Monday afternoon brought two pieces of news regarding defensemen hoping to see some playing time.

First it was announced that the Flyers re-signed Mark Friedman to a one-way, two-year deal. He held his own during his six games in the NHL this season. He’ll likely compete for a roster spot as the sixth or seventh defenseman next season depending on what happens with the Flyers free agent defensemen in Justin Braun (UFA) and Robert Hagg (RFA).

On the other side of things, Shayne Gostisbehere revealed that he had another knee surgery about seven weeks ago. Gostisbehere missed time due to arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in January, and that caused some trouble with his left knee.

“I had to get a small scope done again,” he said. “It was different, didn’t have to do with any tendons or anything, just a small little cartilage thing.”

Gostisbehere struggled mightily this season, and this may be some sort of explanation for it. He is a player who relies on quick maneuvers and pivoting, which could be affected by a knee injury. Hopefully he’ll be able to return to form and contribute in the round robin and playoffs.

Gostisbehere and Friedman were paired together in Group B for the Flyers.

Here are how the Flyers defensemen lined up on Day 1:

Group A

Ivan Provorov - Matt Niskanen
Robert Hagg - Justin Braun
Tyler Wotherspoon - Nate Prosser

Group B

Travis Sanheim - Philippe Myers
Shayne Gostisbehere - Mark Friedman
Andy Welinksi - Egor Zamula

Provorov and Niskanen will be together as the top pair, and as of now the Sanheim-Myers pair is sticking together as well. Gostisbehere – and Friedman to some extent – is hoping to usurp Hagg and join Braun on the third pair.

Day 1 is in the books, but there’s still plenty of time left in Training Camp. The Flyers will look to use that time wisely as they ramp up toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“Why not us?”

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