While the game-day group of players for the Flyers vs. Islanders game in Bridgeport, CT, on Tuesday did not hold a morning skate, all of the non-game roster players practiced at the Flyers Training Center. Afterwards, team captain Claude Giroux, rookie center hopeful Morgan Frost and veteran defenseman Keith Yandle spoke to the media. The following is a synopsis of what each player had to say.
Giroux took a maintenance day and did not play in Monday's 2-1 overtime home win against the Boston Bruins. He was back on the ice in Voorhees on Tuesday. Giroux said he feels fine -- the extra off-day was solely to take care of his body after a physical game against Washington on Saturday in advance of several practices and the preseason finale in Washington on Friday.
In terms of the progression the team in getting on the same page and mastering systems, the club is still incorporating a lot of new players. However as camp has progressed, everyone is starting to feel more comfortable. Likewise, the power play has been coming along over camp. New PP1 point man, Keith Yandle is more of a puck distributor than a shooter (such as former Flyer defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere), Giroux said Yandle is a very smart player and makes good plays with the puck.
Typically in the preseason, most games put a mostly "A" squad of NHL roster players (usually on the home side) against a mixture of regulars, prospects and players who are trying to earn depth spots. That's been the case for the Flyers this preseason.
Giroux said that it's important to get the main roster group together to gel on the ice. He's looking forward to the challenge of playing against many of the best players on the Capitals in DC come Friday.
After playing just one bonafide hockey game plus two periods of a second game before suffering a season-ending shoulder surgery early last season -- a gap of roughly 18 months between the start of the NHL pause in March 2020 and the current Flyers training camp, Frost has been playing catch-up to recover his offensive timing and confidence.
Through three preseason appearances, he has not recorded a point. Frost did score a goal during Saturday's practice shootout against Washington and has made a couple of tape-to-tape passes to set up potential scoring chances for teammates. Against the Bruins on Monday, he had a point-blank chance set up for him by Oskar Lindblom. Overall, however, the player admitted on Tuesday that he needs to get more puck touches, be more assertive in making plays and get himself to scoring areas.
However, Frost has shown progress in his overall game. On Saturday, he provided some effective forechecking, including creating two Washington turnovers in prime areas of their zone. In his own end, Frost has played back-to-back strong defensive games. On Monday, he won 6 of 10 faceoffs. He also was uncharacteristically physical, registering four credited hits (joking after practice that it was probably a career record-high for him in a single game).
The veteran offensive-minded defenseman has settled into a top-unit power play role in camp along with being paired on the blueline with Justin Braun (who took a maintenance day on Monday and joined the game group headed to Bridgeport for Tuesday's game). Yandle said on Tuesday that the number one way to get in sync with new teammates, especially on the power play, is simply by talking things out together and learning tendencies such as where a certain player likes the puck for deflections or one-timers.
Yandle said that he enjoys playing with Braun and that they've already forged a good friendship. Yandle said that his new defensive partner is a very strong communicator. For example, if Yandle has his back to the play while going back to retrieve a puck, Braun will let him know what's coming and what his main option is on the play.
A very close friend of Kevin Hayes, Yandle said that his teammate is staying positive and upbeat even amid the difficult times he's experienced recently. Yandle said that the entire team is happy when Hayes is around for team meetings and the like as he recovers from recent abdominal muscle surgery.