A third day of physically intensive practice and press conferences from Flyers Governor Dave Scott and the Flyers Warriors highlighted the goings-on at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees on Saturday.
The same primary players and line combinations in Groups A and B remained together for the third straight day, as Vigneault indicated they would before the start of camp.
"I've liked what I've seen so far. I've liked also the young guys coming into camp and following the pace. It's intense out there. It's quick. Most of the drills that we're doing are game-oriented. Not a lot of room. Got to be able to make plays in small areas, and you got to be able to make those plays quickly. I've liked what I've seen. I'm going to continue with what you saw today," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said after the sessions were finished.
Here are some of the main developments on Day 3:
* The Flyers got bitten by the injury bug yet again. Tanner Laczynski, who underwent hip surgery during the spring, tweaked his other hip and was not available for Saturday's practice. Additionally, during the Group B session, Linus Högberg suffered an oblique muscle injury and had to leave the ice. He underwent an MRI later in the day. Updates on the injuries are expected on Sunday.
* In the absence of Högberg, forward Matthew Strome moved back to defense to take the rest of Högberg's reps for the rest of the first half of the practice. At the conclusion of practice, Strome was rewarded with cheers and stick taps from teammates plus the honor of leading stretches at center ice.
* Flyers 2021 second-round pick Samu Tuomaala received his first opportunity to practice with one of the main groups in camp. In Days 1 and 2, the 18-year-old right wing skated only in the early-morning Group C practice. On Saturday, with Ryan Fitzgerald (lower body injury) and Laczynski unavailable, Tuomaala pulled down double duty. He skated with Group C and then appeared with Group A.
* Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen rarely fails to make his presence known from a physicality standpoint. On Saturday, he gave rough physical treatment to numerous players including James van Riemsdyk and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Ristolainen also came within a whisker of scoring a goal on a rush in which he jumped into the to receive a pass from Joel Farabee. The shot went off the inside of the left post and stayed out.
Vigneault said of the big Finnish defenseman, "Our most powerful player is Rasmus, in all the tests, the strength test and everything. He's our most powerful player. What I've seen on the ice so far, I've liked but obviously, the exhibition games are going to be the tell-tale. He's going to get an opportunity to play. I would say most of our veteran guys are going to play between three and four games. More veterans maybe just in three because we need to get a look at some of the younger guys also. Him being new, he might get a chance to play four. I'm not 100% sure. We've got him right now with Travis [Sanheim]. I sense that could be a solid pair, two big guys. Two guys that can skate. We'll have to see how it plays out during training camp."
* The best news of the day: Vigneault said that all of Oskar Lindblom's physical testing results in camp are back to where they were in Sept. 2019; three months before his Ewing Sarcoma diagnosis.
"What he did on the ice and off the ice, he's back to that. That's a real positive sign, obviously, with [further] improvement moving forward," Vigneault said.
"We're obviously banking that the Oskar that we're going to see this year is the Oskar pre-cancer. If you remember that time, when we told him that he had cancer, I think it was our top scorer at the time. Our top goal scorer. Him, Coots and TK were coming together as a line and they were playing extremely well. They were playing together on the powerplay. Oskar and Coots were killing penalties together. They were a good NHL line, real good NHL line. I'm hoping with everything that I'm hearing that he's back to where he was prior to it. Obviously, we're going to have to show a little bit of patience here but when you talk to him, you see that he feels good. I don't want to say he was frustrated last year, but he was because he had the mind going. The body just wasn't doing what the mind was thinking."
* Flyers Warriors head coach Brad Marsh, who also serves as the Flyers' director of community development and the president of the Flyers Alumni Association, held a press conference on Saturday at the Flyers Training Center. He was joined by Bill Duffy (the Flyers' Warriors president and Tier 1 starting goaltender who is a U.S. Air Force veteran) and other members of the team. They formally announced the schedule for the 2021 USA Hockey Warrior Classic, which will take place on Nov. 5-7, 2021 at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees and the Hollydell Ice Arena in Sewell, NJ.
Toyota Tri-State Dealers executive Paul Muller, himself an Army veteran, presented a $35,000 check to the Flyers Warriors program on behalf of Toyota.
Day 4 Preview
On Sunday, the Flyers will conduct a special teams-focused practice session with a combined roster of Group A and Group B players then there will be a Group A vs. Group B scrimmage at 11 a.m. ET. Vigneault said the two sides in the scrimmage should be very similar, with perhaps a change or two on the lower end of the lineups, from the Groups that ran on Saturday.
Based on Day 3 combinations plus injuries in camp, the lineups may look something like this:
Claude Giroux - Sean Couturier - Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom - Derick Brassard - Cam Atkinson
Isaac Ratcliffe - Cal O'Reilly - Tyson Foerster
Matthew Strome - J-R Avon - Gerry Mayhew
Ivan Provorov - Ryan Ellis
Keith Yandle - Justin Braun
Egor Zamula - Nick Seeler
Brian Zanetti - Ethan Samson
Carter Hart/ Samuel Ersson
James van Riemsdyk - Morgan Frost - Joel Farabee
Nate Thompson - Scott Laughton - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Connor Bunnaman - German Rubtsov - Linus Sandin
Garrett Wilson - Jackson Cates - Max Willman
Travis Sanheim - Rasmus Ristolainen
Cam York - Adam Clendening
Mason Millman - Wyatte Wylie
Quinn Schmiemann - Jackson van de Leest
Martin Jones / Felix Sandström
Monday will be an off-day in camp. On Tuesday evening, the Flyers will host the New York Islanders in the exhibition schedule opener.