Voorhees, NJ – Although it has only been one game, the Flyers may have found a threesome that could generate some offense for the club once the regular season begins.
Mike Richards, Mike Knuble and Jon Sim have all never played a game wearing the orange and black. None of them had ever played together on the same team before at the NHL level, either, but so far in training camp, a good chemistry is developing between the trio. On Saturday night in London, they comprised the most productive line of the night. Richards posted three assists, Sim scored twice and Knuble added a goal and an assist of his own.
All three hope that success continues as they take the ice on Wednesday night against the New York Islanders at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, NJ.
"We've only played one game here, but it's encouraging," said Knuble. Mike comes in, and is a great passer, and Jon Sim is a much better shooter with the puck than I ever knew. He's just one of those guys that seems to find the back of the net.
Knuble is the NHL regular among the three, having spent eight productive seasons in the league. Richards, a rookie who was a former first round pick of the Flyers in 2003, is in his first pro training camp, while Jon Sim has bounced between the NHL and the minor leagues for most of his seven year career and was arguably the Phantoms' MVP during last season's Calder Cup run.
As the veteran of the bunch, Knuble will be vital to the progress of Richards. It's a role that he recognizes, and it is evident even this early in camp that there is a friendship and a mutual respect between the two.
"You take a guy like Mike and he's got incredible experience being a World Junior captain and a ton of success," said Knuble. It's not easy coming into your first pro camp. You're really nervous, and suddenly the guys are huge and they are men talking about their kids. It's a whole different world. It's not kid stuff anymore. There's a lot of pressure involved, and it takes a special guy to be able to come here at 20 years old and be able to play.
Richards is also enjoying getting to know his new linemate.
"He's been great so far," he said. I have been throwing a lot of questions off of him over the past couple of weeks, and he's really helped me out. He's made it really relaxed to be out on the ice playing with him. He jokes around with me, and makes it a good environment to play in.
Knuble is helpful to the rookie in other ways other than just on the ice.
"Today on the ice I had to explain to him what TiVo was (laughs)," said Knuble. "I told him I had TiVo, and he said 'what the hell is TiVo?'
The Flyers are hoping that the positive environment and positive results continue.
Primeau, Hitchcock Happy to be Playing Closer to Home Wednesday night's contest between the Flyers and New York Islanders will give the local fans a chance to see the team for the first time since the end of the 2003-04 season. Although it is listed as a home game for the Islanders, it is expected that there will be more Flyers fans in attendance, as Trenton is only a short ride from Philadelphia.
"It will be good for the fans and the players," said Primeau. "It's kind of like a re-introduction, and in a lot of instances, an introduction leading up to this weekend's real home game at the Wachovia Center.
Hitchcock saw many games in Trenton during the last season, and appreciates the crowd there.
"The thing I like about Trenton is that it is a really nice knowledgeable hockey crowd there," said Hitchcock. It's a crowd that really knows the difference between good play and poor play. The thing I noticed is that they are really passionate about the game of hockey.
"I think it's kind of the first step towards Saturday night," said Hitchcock. "I think there are still some other fans there. There were some Devils fans last time we were there, and there will be some Islanders fans there this time. To be honest with you what we are really towards is getting back in our own building on Saturday night. We're really looking forward to that.
The Flyers open up their home portion of the preseason schedule on Saturday night against the Washington Capitals at the Wachovia Center.
FLYERS NOTES Among the players skating on the Flyers side at the Skate Zone today included Jamie Storr, Eric Chouinard, Ben Eager and R.J. Umberger, who returned to the ice after sitting out with back spasms on Monday.