We’ve reached the end, folks! The Flyers are closing out their preseason with a game against the Capitals. The last time we saw the Capitals, the Flyers picked up their first (and only) win of the preseason over them. The Caps were without many of their top contributors in that game, so the Flyers were able to take advantage of that, but they likely won't have the same chance tonight. It’s the last tune-up before the regular season, and all of the regulars are back in the mix. The first real test of what this team, in its most complete form, can do is here.
Players to watch
1. Martin Jones
That’s right gang, it’s another Jones start tonight! Carter Hart’s getting the night off, and Jones is getting another chance to continue to build up some chemistry with his new team. After a rough introduction, he’s had some fine showings in each of his subsequent starts—not stellar, but mostly solid—but another rep for him certainly isn’t going to hurt. This season is going to be him looking to rebound from a less than stellar final season in San Jose in a big way, and the Flyers are giving him the most runway possible to hit the season with a bit of momentum. It’s going well so far, and hopefully he’s able to keep that rolling with another solid performance tonight.
2. Derick Brassard
For much of training camp, it was looking like the Flyers were going to roll straight into the season with Morgan Frost as their second line center, but that all quickly came screeching to a halt when he was sent to Lehigh Valley in Wednesday’s second round of cuts. That’s meant there’s needed to be some shuffling throughout the lineup, and if yesterday’s practice lines are any indication, the Flyers’ new plan is to give Brassard a look in that role. He’s looked good so far in the preseason, but that’s a significant role to be given, and his results at the center position over the last few seasons have been mixed. It isn’t a surefire plan to work out, but it’s worth giving a shot, and we’ll see how it goes.
Two big questions
1. How’s the mix looking?
This has been one of our ongoing questions as we’ve moved through the preseason, with all of the new pieces that have been added to the team over the summer. The early returns have seemed positive, but it’s still a relatively small sample that we’ve been working with, and an even smaller one with close to a full compliment of these players set to be on the opening night roster in the fold. Things are a little different still without Frost now, so it’s a slightly different mix to be playing with, and some of the lines have been a bit jumbled from what we saw earlier in the preseason. Things keep changing, things might be getting a little weird, but we’ll see how they go. Do they look like they’re going to be good? That’s kind of the big (and maybe only) thing we want to know right now.
2. ...and the fourth line?
But to go a little deeper on that one, we can hone in on the fourth line a bit. With Frost gone (okay, fine, we’re done harping on this now), the Flyers’ depth has taken a bit of a hit, and we’re really seeing that as we look at this fourth line. We’re looking at a trio of Garrett Wilson (has spent most of his career in the AHL), Nate Thompson (did not look very good in his first run with the Flyers two seasons ago), and Nicolas Aube-Kubel (has had a really strong preseason, but is coming off of a less inspiring last season). This might end up as a fine defensive line, but there’s also a relatively low offensive upside, and it feels equally possible that a very deep team could take advantage of them. This might be getting ahead of ourselves a bit, but this will be a line to keep an eye on as we move forward, if it looks like they’re going to stick.
Puck drops tonight at 7:00, and you can check out the projected lines below.
Giroux - Couturier - Konecny
Farabee - Brassard - Atkinson
Lindblom - Laughton - van Riemsdyk
Wilson - Thompson - Aube-Kubel
Provorov - Ellis
Sanheim - Ristolainen
Yandle - Braun