After 143 days, the Flyers will take to the ice as the 2014 preseason officially gets underway on Monday -- not just once, but twice.
The rosters have been split as the Flyers will travel to London, Ont. to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at Budweiser Gardens, while head coach Craig Berube will guide the Flyers squad taking on the Washington Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center beginning a 7 p.m.
Among the names Flyers fans will get to see against the Caps at the Wells Fargo Center will be the recent line duo of Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn. With Michael Raffl expected to play top minutes in London, it's unknown who will be paired with Schenn and Voracek.
Same goes for Lecavalier, who will center RJ Umberger for most of the contest. Umberger has been on his left side for a majority of the time during camp and will take to the ice in a Flyers sweater for the first time since May 18, 2008 in the Eastern Conference Final series vs. Pittsburgh.
Flyers fans will get to see three of the top defensive prospects hit the blue line as Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg and Shayne Gostisbehere will be in the lineup.
For Sanheim it will be his first time, other than draft night, he will put on the Flyers crest.
“Obviously it’s going to be a little nerve-racking to get the first few shifts out of the way,” said Sanheim. “I want to keep it simple and not do too much, but at the same time I want to play my game and make sure I put in a good impression.”
Last time Gostisbehere took to that ice surface it was covered in confetti, while he and his teammates skated the NCAA trophy around as National Champions. And while those memories are fresh in his mind, it won’t take long for him to quickly remember why he’s out there.
“I have those good memories, but I’ll probably sit back and worry about the game,” said Gostisbehere. “It’s an honor to wear the sweater for the first time, but of course you have to remember it’s just a game and you have to go out there and have fun.”
Ray Emery will most likely get the start on home ice with Rob Zepp backing up. Both goalies are expected to see action.
THE LONDON SQUAD
Flyers fans up north will get to see some prime-time players in action as Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds will make the trip. Like most of last season, Couturier and Read have been paired together through the first three days of camp.
On the blue line, Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz will also make the trip and see their first action as members of the Flyers since being acquired over the summer.
Del Zotto is one of four former London Knights who will also be in the lineup, while Zac Rinaldo will be one of 10 vets suiting up for the Flyers. Rinaldo played half of the 2008-09 and 2009-10 season with London before being traded to the Barrie Colts.
More recently however is Anthony Stolarz, who is beginning his pro career where he ended his junior career. Coming off of two seasons with London, he appeared in two consecutive Memorial Cups with the Knights.
Stolarz isn’t new to the Flyers' London game. He appeared in last year’s game, allowing one goal through parts of two periods, splitting time with Steve Mason.
“It’s definitely exciting to be going back to London. It was my home for the last year and a half,” said Stolarz, who even though its a place he’s comfortable playing in, takes the same approach as he would of a game in any building.
“You just want to go out there and make an impression. Everyone is fighting for roster spots so you want to go in and play your best and leave an impression on the coaching staff and make the decision tough on them.”
A former Knight from 2005-08, Mason will also see action against the Leafs over the games on back-to-back nights, ending at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday.
Technically speaking it will be an all-London core of goaltenders at Budweiser Gardens as Flyers goaltending coach Jeff Reese is a former Knight as well (1983-86).
Make no mistake about it though, the upcoming preseason games are regular season games for many of the rookies and players hoping to make the squad out of camp. None more so than Scott Laughton.
“I wasn’t too happy with my performance so hopefully I can redeem myself this year and come out with a couple wins, said Laughton. “We have to take it really serious and try and play our best. Practice is one thing but games are another, so that’s going to be huge for me making the next step.”
A full roster of each team will be available on Monday…