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PRACTICE UPDATE: Rare Division game, power-play and more

Flyers expect wild, playoff-like atmosphere with home opener vs. Caps

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

A second full day of practice saw more battle drills, work down low and along the boards, and of course more work on special teams. For the most part lines and combinations stayed the same. 

Below are a few storylines and notes to come out of the skate in preparation for the club's home opener vs. Washington on Saturday:

Video: Giroux, Gostisbehere and Laughton after practice

EMOTION & ATMOSPHERE

The Flyers and Capitals met in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The top-seeded Caps took the series 4 games to 2, but not until after the Flyers gave them a scare by winning two straight and a strong push to force a Game 7, but ultimately fell shy by one goal in a 1-0 loss in Game 6.

The intensity and battle in that series is exactly what the club expects when it takes on Washington for their long-awaited home opener.

"I think any time we play a team that's in our division it's a pretty intense game," said captain Claude Giroux. "They're fun to play, but especially in a home opener, they'll be coming in hot so we have to be ready."

Not only were the Flyers away from home to begin the season, they faced all Western Conference opponents. Saturday's game marks the first in their own Conference, as well as first and only Metropolitan Division opponent they face until the last week of November.

"We got a taste in preseason of the home atmosphere, but I think it's going to be at a new level tomorrow night," said Sanheim of what he and the other three rookies on the team are expecting. "It's going to be a pretty cool experience for me and I think the other guys are really looking forward to it."

Another experience Sanheim might get an up-close taste of is playing against world-class sniper, Alex Ovechkin, who is off to another hot start with eight goals in four games, seven of which have come at even-strength.

"Obviously I watched him growing up and saw him score a lot of goals," added Sanheim, who was 10 years old when Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie. "It's going to be a fun time to play against him tomorrow night and obviously try and shut him down."

POWER PLAY 1a & 1b?

Typically it's a goaltending tandem when referring to a "1a and 1b" scenario, but in the early going you would be talking about the Flyers power play.

A big difference from this year to last is the use of four forwards and one defenseman.

The second unit is made up of Travis Konecny, Nolan Patrick and Sean Couturier up front, while forward Jordan Weal and defenseman Ivan Provorov each man the point. That unit has accounted for a good amount of the scoring chances this year, despite four of the five goals coming from the top unit of Simmonds-Filppula-Giroux with Voracek and Gostisbehere on the back end.

"We've got good healthy competition between those two units and that's a positive," said Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol. "The other unit is a new group… Right from Day 1 they've really been excited to work at their game as a group of five. They spend extra time before and after practice and they've done a very good job preparing. It's a young group in terms of how long they've been together but they're doing a lot of good things on a nightly basis."

Although they are a new unit, Patrick is with a Ivan Provorov, a familiar face from junior, who he set up for his first NHL point (although technically it came with one second that expired on the power play to have it marked as even strength on the stat sheet).

"We ran the power play for two years together in Brandon," said Patrick after the Flyers' win at Anaheim on Oct. 7. "We're good buddies off the ice, too. So, yes, there's a little bit of chemistry for us."

The task at hand now is to create consistency. After going 3-for-5 in the season opening win at San Jose, the power play went 0-for-10 in the next two, but rebounded to go 2-for-5 against the Predators.

SHOWING THEIR SPEED

Four games into the season, fans (as well as other teams) have started to take notice of the Flyers line that skates with yellow jerseys in practice. 

The combination of Taylor Leier and Michael Raffl with Scott Laughton centering has been one of the fastest, if not the fastest, line combinations the Flyers have had in recent memory.

"The game has gotten faster every year," said Laughton. "We try and be good on the forecheck and have good sticks to create turnovers and try and get chances off of that. When you're doing that you're not spending too much time in the defensive zone so I think that helps a lot to create chances and penalties against them."

That line has averaged around 11 minutes of ice-time per game and account for 20 shots on goal led by Laughton, who has 10 shots through the first four games, which puts him in a tie for third on the team.

The festivities at the Wells Fargo are always amped up for the opening game and Saturday will be no different. Puck Drop is slated for 7:18 pm ET and the opening will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Philadelphia and on the radio at 97.5 The Fanatic.

Video: Flyers head coach after two days of practice

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