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Special Teams Focus Kicks off latter stages of camp

New looks to the first and second unit as Flyers begin building special teams

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

VOORHEES, NJ - Over the first two days of the Flyers training camp, the team focused on battle drills and skating conditioning. 

The primary focus then shifted to systems and 5-on-5 structure as the team prepared to play four games, including a split-squad set, over the span of five nights. 

With so little preparation time and quick turnaround, there was no time available to do special teams work under the direction of new power play coach Kris Knoblauch.

Additionally, the sheer number of players in camp during the first week meant a lot of different line combinations were used in separate sessions. With a slew of young players in camp to evaluate, many of the Flyers "core" group of veterans - including team captain Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier - did not make their first appearance of the preseason until Thursday night's road game in Boston. 

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Flyers Reduce Training Camp Roster

Lyon also loaned to Phantoms, roster at 29 players

by PhiladelphiaFlyers.com @NHLFlyers / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have reduced their training camp roster by six players, according to general manager Ron Hextall.

The following six players have been loaned to the club's AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, for Training Camp:

(D) Mark Alt
(D) TJ Brennan
(D) Will O'Neill
(F) Greg Carey
(F) Corban Knight
(F) Phil Varone

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The importance of 200-feet

Flyers rookies showing two-Way skills in early preseason action

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

Most the fan excitement over Flyers rookies Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom stems from the expectation that both players will become offensive impact players in the National Hockey League. 

While both players have made a few impressive plays with the puck in the early portion of first NHL preseason - most notably Patrick's set-up pass on Shayne Gostisbehere's winning goal in the split-squad game in Allentown on Wednesday - it has not been their offensive games that has most stood out to date.

Rather, it's the maturity of their respective two-way games that's been noticeable. Even as both have worked to get themselves into an offensive rhythm at the NHL preseason pace, they've hit the ground running in the less glamorous but equally important aspects of the game. 

Whether it has been applying back pressure in the neutral zone, cutting off a passing lane, lifting an opponent's stick, clearing the puck from the defensive zone, knowing when and how long to hang onto the puck or winning 50-50 battles in the corners (especially Lindblom), the two young players have done it well in camp.  

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Flyers fall to Bruins in OT, 2-1

Sanheim scores, Elliott shuts the door but Flyers fall at Boston

http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com @NHLFlyers

BOSTON - After two scoreless periods at the Garden in Boston, the Flyers and Bruins traded goals on special teams in the third which forced overtime, but Kenny Agostino capitalized on a breakaway to give the B's a 2-1 win in the 3 on 3 extra session.

Below are some news and notes from the Flyers fourth preseason game:

* Brian Elliott was impressive in his first Flyers start. He stopped all 18 shots he saw for a perfect 40 minutes. He stopped 10 shots in the first period and all eight in the second, which included a few point-blank saves.

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Flyers reduce training camp roster by 18 players

Additional players returned to junior teams and Flyers AHL affiliate

by PhiladelphiaFlyers.com @NHLFlyers / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have reduced their training camp roster by 18 players, according to general manager Ron Hextall. 

The following five players have been returned to their junior team:

(F) Connor Bunnaman (Kitchener - OHL)
(F) Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville - QMJHL)
(F) Ivan Kosorenkov (Victoriaville - QMJHL)
(F) German Rubtsov (Chicoutimi - QMJHL)
(G) Carter Hart (Everett - WHL)

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Flyers announce roster for preseason game vs. Bruins

Giroux, Voracek and Simmonds highlight roster for game at Boston

by PhiladelphiaFlyers.com @NHLFlyers / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

The Flyers will take on the Bruins in Boston tonight at 7pm. The game will be broadcast on the NHL Network and 97.5 The Fanatic. View the full roster below…

* After last night's split-squad game, the Flyers are 1-1-1 in the preseason thus far with all three games being decided by a 3-2 score and two of the three going past regulation and decided in overtime.

* Nine of the 20 players tonight will make their preseason debut (Couturier, Giroux, Simmonds, Filppula, Weal, Voracek, Gudas, MacDonald & Elliott).

* Brian Elliott will get his first look in net tonight as a Flyer… Last season Elliott went 26-18-3 with a 2.55 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in 49 appearances with Calgary - he also won 11 consecutive starts, going 11-0-0, from Feb. 21 - Mar. 19 and posted a .942 save percentage and 1.70 GAA.

* Including the Rookie Game, this will be the fourth straight game for five players in training camp (Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim and goaltender Alex Lyon).

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Patrick to Ghost OT goal gives PPL Center Crowd Thrilling Win

Flyers defeat Islanders 3-2 in OT in Allentown, but drop second game in Brooklyn

by Bill Meltzer @NHLFlyers / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

In a game marked by near-constant special teams play for two periods, the Flyers prevailed in overtime, 3-2, in the Allentown half of split-squad games with the New York Islanders on Wednesday. Five postgame observations:

1. Slow start, strong finish -  There was little flow to the first period at the PPL Center, largely due to a combined seven minor penalties (four on the Flyers, three on the Islanders in the opening 20 minutes). The Flyers got outshot, 13-5, in the opening stanza and went off trailing, 1-0, after a 5-on-3 power play goal by impressive Islanders rookie hopeful Mathew Barzal off a feed from Joshua Ho Sang.

By the third period, most of the play was at 5-on-5 and the tempo picked up considerably. The Flyers strung several strong shifts together but the Islanders regained the Flyers zone and with 24 seconds left in regulation, Anders Lee stuffed home a puck behind Leland Irving, who came in to replace starter Michal Neuvirth in the third period.

In the 3-on-3 overtime, the Islanders came out attacking and controlled the opening shift. A good defensive play by Dale Weise sprung Nolan Patrick on a 2-on-1 with Shayne Gostisbehere. Receiving a tape-to-tape feed from Patrick in the right slot, "Ghost" rifled home the game winner at the 53-second mark. 

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PREVIEW: Split-Squad Wednesday

Meltzer's 'What to Watch For' as Flyers battle Islanders twice in one night

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

In recent years, it has become something of an early preseason tradition for the Flyers to play split squad games on the same night.

Last September, with a host of Flyers players unavailable due to World Cup of Hockey obligations, the team played split-squad road games against the New York Islanders (3-0 loss) and New Jersey Devils (2-0 loss). This year's exhibition game at the PPL Center marks the third straight year the Flyers have played a preseason game at the home rink of their American Hockey League affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. So far, the PPL Center has been friendly confines for the Flyers. The team has won both of its preseason games there to date.

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol will coach the game in Lehigh Valleym while assistant coaches Gord Murphy and Ian Laperriere will share the duties behind the bench in Brooklyn. Beyond that, here are three things to watch in Wednesday's game:

CLICK HERE to see both rosters for tonight's games.

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Rosters Announced for Split-Squad Game

Games to take place in Lehigh Valley, PA and Brooklyn, NY

by PhiladelphiaFlyers.com @NHLFlyers / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

The Philadelphia Flyers will play two games tonight against the New York Islanders. One game will take place at the PPL Center in Lehigh Valley, the other at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Both games start at 7pm. The Lehigh Valley game will be broadcast on TCN, with radio coverage on 97.5 The Fanatic. The split-squad game at NYI will have streaming audio coverage abailable on FlyersRadio247.com 

Limited tickets are still available tonight at the PPL Center! Get them HERE.

Rosters for both games are listed below:

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Training Camp Day 5: Experimentation Atop Lineup

Giroux moves to wing, joins Couturier at center as team prepares for more games

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

One day before the Flyers play split-squad games against the New York Islanders at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA, and the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, NY, the rosters for Group 1 and Group 2 were similar to Monday's groupings. However, Dave Hakstol took a look at different line combinations, including a notable experiment on the top line. 

1. Giroux embraces LW experiment - Flyers captain Claude Giroux was originally drafted as a right winger and spent much of his early NHL career with the Flyers at that position before switching to center during the 2009-10 season. Ever since then, he has played center almost exclusively.

During Tuesday's practice, Giroux played left wing on a line with Sean Couturier. Although they have been teammates since Couturier's rookie season (2011-12), the two have rarely been on the ice at the same time. The third member of the line was Jakub Voracek - Giroux's regular linemate on the Flyers' top line but also someone who has played periodically with Couturier. 

The righthanded shooting Giroux, who sets up on the left half wall during Flyers' power plays and is skilled at creating plays from his "off-wing" side of the ice, enjoyed the chance to try out taking line rushes on left wing. He required no convincing beforehand to try it out, immediately and enthusiastically embracing the challenge. 

"Off the rush, we did a lot of drills where I was coming down the left side there. I could see the ice pretty good. You have the puck your strong side there [as a righthanded shot]. It was actually a lot of fun. It's not like I'm against it or opposed to it at all. If it makes the team better - we have a lot of centermen - we can do that," Giroux said.

Giroux was unsure if the experiment will carry over into the split-squad lineup on Wednesday or be used in future practices, but said he is intrigued by the idea of seeing if he has chemistry with Couturier and Voracek as a trio. Even if this is not a line that opens the season together, experimenting with it during training camp might eventually give the coaching staff another option to use from time to time. 

Giroux noted how the San Jose Sharks have effectively switched off between Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski at center or wing. Hakstol, however, said he's not using other teams' players as a yardstick. 

Voracek said that playing with Couturier - a defensively aware north-south player with the positional savvy and physical strength to win battles despite not being the fastest of skaters on the team - entails a little different style of hockey than playing with classic playmaker Giroux in the middle. Both players, however, are strong in the hockey sense department. As such, Voracek believes they can forge line chemistry if they are assembled as a trio.

Hakstol noted that Giroux's wholehearted willingness to change positions - whether or not it becomes a weapon in the lineup arsenal - speaks to the captain's leadership and commitment.

"When your captain is as selfless as 'G' is, he [goes] all in," Hakstol said. "Whatever the role is, he's going to attack it… It's early, but he's had a very high-level camp."

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