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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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Shifting Gears as Week 2 of Training Camp begins

Flyers make changes to groups, prepare to take on heavy preseason schedule

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

Over the first few days of training camp, the Flyers simultaneously mixed and matched players with widely varying levels of experience and development while taking a look at several possible preseason combinations. Practices, especially on Day One, were skating-intensive and loaded with battle drills in various situational settings. 

Now that the team has played its first preseason game and is gearing up for split-squad games against the New York Islanders on Wednesday in Allentown's PPL Center and the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, there has been a slight shift in emphasis - although the conditioning skating and battle drills are still prominent. 

As the second week is now well underway, here are three things to watch in camp:

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Flyers take 3-2 loss to Islanders

Overtime goal sinks Flyers in opening preseason game

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

The Flyers dropped a 3-2 decision in overtime to the NY Islanders in their opening preseason game on Sunday afternoon.

Islanders captain John Tavares scored twice including the game winning goal in OT, while Mike Vecchione and Jori Lehtera scored for the Flyers in the loss.

Below are some news & notes from the game:

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Roster announced for Flyers-Islanders at Nassau

Flyers open 2017 preseason on Long Island today at 1 pm

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

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS vs. NY ISLANDERS

1 p.m. | 97.5 The Fanatic

* Five of the 18 skaters will be appearing in their first ever NHL preseason game (Kosorenkov, Lindblom, Patrick, Rubtsov, Vorobyev).

* 10 skaters have played in at least one NHL regular season game with Matt Read leading the way with 418 NHL games played.

* Among the defense, Shayne Gostisbehere has the most NHL experience with 142 NHL games… Only two of the six defensemen dressing have more than one game of NHL experience (Gostisbehere & Provorov).

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Elliott Keeping an Even Keel

How the newest Flyers goaltender will handle working in tandem

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

As a goaltender who has been a part of tandem-starter arrangements for much of his career, veteran NHL goaltender Brian Elliott had no qualms about the idea of sharing playing time with Michal Neuvirth when the Flyers came calling to Elliott as a restricted free agent this summer. Elliott signed a two-year contract on July 1.

Elliott pointed to the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins' handling of Marc-Andre Fleury (now with the Vegas Golden Knights) and Matt Murray this year as an example of how the arrangement could be successful. 

"I think you saw it in the playoffs with Pittsburgh. They had to have two goalies who can play and win games for them. Every goalie in the NHL is so good that on any given night they can be the best goalie in the league," Elliott said. 

"This is a 'Show-me' league. If you're not winning, someone's going to take your job. The margin is pretty narrow, because there's so many good goalies available. Whoever's going well at a given time will usually be the one who plays the next game. But it can go back-and-forth over the year. I've experienced that in my career. For myself, I just try to keep working hard and eventually things turn in your favor and you end up playing the bulk of the games. I want to be a guy for the Flyers who can be counted on game in and game out back there."

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Training Camp: Day 1

Rookies & vets hit the ice together for the first day of training camp

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

3:30PM

Group 2 saw a large contingent of veteran players: Voracek, Simmonds, Read, Weise and Couturier to name a few. Below is what stood out among the drills…

SKATING LEGS PUT TO THE TEST

* Group 1 and Group 2 ran through the same sets of drills on the first day. Both sessions had an emphasis on what coaches often refer to as "conditioning skating". Players, of course, are often much less enamored of "bag skates" but also recognize their value during training camp. Gone are the days, however, when players could could play their way into skating shape during training camp. Nowadays, there's an expectation that players put in the time over the offseason to have their skating legs tested off the bat and then fine tune their stamina and game-day timing. One the best skating performers in either group was first-year pro Mark Friedman in group 1. In group 2 Philippe Myers stood out.

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Flyers Learn-To-Play Rookie Program Now Underway

Program outfits first-time youth hockey players with free equipment

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

With a goal of inspiring more Philadelphia-area families to join the hockey community, the Philadelphia Flyers are partnering with 12 hockey rinks across the region to kick off an expanded Flyers Rookie Program this month, a six-week learn-to-play initiative for first-time youth hockey players that features FREE Flyers-branded head-to-toe hockey equipment for participants.

The program, now in its second year and open to boys and girls ages five to nine, provides each participant with a full set of Flyers-branded hockey equipment including: helmet with cage, shoulder pads, elbow pads, hockey gloves, hockey pants, shin guards, skates, jersey, socks, stick, and equipment bag. Upon completion of the program, participants can keep their equipment. The six-week course also includes age-appropriate instruction by a certified coaching staff, including NHL alumni.

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TRAINING CAMP: 5 Storylines to keep an eye on

Get Meltzer's take on what to expect at this year's competition at camp

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

Coming off an uneven 2016-17 campaign that saw the team fall short of the Stanley Cup playoffs for just the fourth time since 1995, the Philadelphia Flyers enter training camp with an ambitious dual goal of returning to the postseason while increasingly injecting NHL-ready youth into the lineup. There are many jobs up for grabs in this year's camp, with a cadre of top young prospects seemingly ready to challenge for them.

Here are five key storylines to follow as the on-ice portion of training camp gets underway on Friday.

1. COMPETITION UNLIKE ANY OTHER

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall and head coach Dave Hakstol have made it crystal clear that this isn't a year where there's only a few viable candidates for one or two roster openings. Whether it's the highly touted rookie candidates in camp or some tenured NHL veterans, jobs will be won or lost based on performance and not on reputation.

"I hope the players are on edge, because they should be," Hextall said. 

Even among the returning group of core veterans who do not reason to worry about their roster spots, Hextall sent out fair warning that everyone will be expected to "dig deep" and push themselves beyond their comfort zone. That could entail added situational responsibilities, being asked to periodically skate at a different position or make more subtle adjustments that will aid a major team goal for 2017-18 of performing better at even strength than last year. 

A good example from last season of a player embracing a new challenge: Wayne Simmonds effectively stepped back into penalty killing duties he hadn't been regularly asked to do since his pre-Flyers days with the LA Kings. He tackled the task with enthusiasm and was one of the team's better players on that end of special teams as well as his more glamorous role as a key net-front presence on the power play.

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Flyers trim training camp roster

Four players returned to their junior teams

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

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have sent four (4) players back to their respective junior teams, according to general manager Ron Hextall.

(F) Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie - OHL)

(F) Isaac Ratcliffe (Guelph - OHL)

(F) Matthew Strome (Hamilton - OHL)

(F) Maksim Sushko (Owen Sound - OHL)

The Flyers training camp roster is now at 57 players.

All four players were a part of the team's rookie camp, which began on Monday, and competed in the Flyers' Rookie Game at the Wells Fargo Center against the New York, dropping a 4-3 decision in overtime to the Islanders.

Each player will also be available to appear in their junior team's preseason games.

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Roster set for 2017 Rookie Game at Wells Fargo Center

Patrick, Lindblom, Rubtsov and others to suit up for first game

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

The very first game day has arrived in Philadelphia and it's the rookies who will be on display at the Wells Fargo Center as they take on the New York Islanders rookies.

Among the roster, 12 players will be participating in a rookie game for the first time with the Flyers, including five first round draft picks (Patrick, Morin, Sanheim, Rubtsov & Frost).

In total, the game will feature 16 players selected by the Flyers in the NHL Draft, including five players taken in the 2017 Draft this past June (Patrick, Frost, Ratcliffe, Strome & Sushko).

The two goaltenders at rookie camp, Alex Lyon and Carter Hart, will once again split duties. The pair combined for a shut out in last year's rookie game against the Islanders in Long Island.

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