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Flyers training camp preview

Giroux, Hart, center depth among keys to watch

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

With training camps set to begin on July 13 as part of Phase 3 of the NHL Return to Play Plan, NHL.com is taking a closer look at each of the 24 teams in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

Today, the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Philadelphia Flyers were 41-21-7 (.645 points percentage) and will play in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers in the Eastern Conference against the Boston Bruins (44-14-12, .714), Tampa Bay Lightning (43-21-6, .657), and Washington Capitals (41-20-8, .652) to determine seeding for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After missing the playoffs last season, the Flyers were one point behind the Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division when the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. Their 19-6-1 record since Jan. 8 was tied with the Bruins for the best in the NHL.

"Was definitely a little disappointing when [the season pause] happened because the team was playing so well," defenseman Ivan Provorov said. "We finally got on a roll and we were playing our best hockey since the time I got to the League, probably the best hockey we've played in four seasons since I've been here."

Philadelphia allowed 28.7 shots on goal per game, fewest in the NHL. Depth at center also is key for the Flyers, led by Sean Couturier, who was second on Philadelphia with 59 points (22 goals, 37 assists) and could be a Selke Trophy finalist for best defensive forward in the NHL. Second-line center Kevin Hayes scored 23 goals and tied for the NHL lead with four shorthanded goals, and centers Derek Grant (Anaheim Ducks) and Nate Thompson (Montreal Canadiens) were acquired in trades Feb. 24 to solidify the third and fourth lines.

 

Player to watch

Claude Giroux was fourth on the Flyers with 53 points (21 goals, 32 assists) in 69 games. His average of 0.77 points per game was his third lowest in a full NHL season, and the forward was overshadowed offensively at times by Couturier, Hayes and forwards Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek. Giroux has set the tone for Philadelphia when it comes to intensity and work ethic during his eight seasons as captain, but the Flyers will need him to produce more offensively.

Video: BUF@PHI: Giroux nets backhander from the doorstep

 

Biggest question

Can Carter Hart win big-pressure games? The 21-year-old was the youngest goalie to play at least 20 NHL games this season, and he was eighth with a 2.42 goals-against average (minimum 20 games played) and tied for ninth with 24 wins (24-13-3). He had an .869 even-strength save percentage on the road and .949 at home.

Video: NJD@PHI: Hart makes 25 saves, earns first shutout

 

Injury updates

Nolan Patrick, C -- Has not played this season because of a migraine disorder. His status is unknown.

Oskar Lindblom, F -- Was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, Dec. 13 and will not play again this season.

James van Riemsdyk, F -- Healthy after missing the final three games before the pause because of a broken right index finger sustained March 4.

Nate Thompson, C -- Healthy after spraining his knee March 10.

Philippe Myers, D -- Healthy after missing the final game, a 2-0 loss to the Bruins on March 11, because of a fractured patella in his right knee sustained March 7.

Video: NYR@PHI: van Riemsdyk buries Aube-Kubel long rebound

 

Fresh face

Morgan Frost had a solid first professional season, scoring 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 41 games with Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League. The center played 20 games with the Flyers, all but two in November and December. He scored in each of his first two games but had four assists in his next 18 and finished the regular season in the AHL. If the 21-year-old can better handle the physical play of the NHL, a good training camp could make him a candidate for a bottom-six forward spot if Philadelphia needs extra offensive punch.

Video: PHI@CAR: Frost buries one-timer off face-off for SHG

 

Telling stat

Since Giroux made his NHL playoff debut in 2009, he has scored 65 points (24 goals, 41 assists) in 69 postseason games. His average of 0.94 points per game is tied for sixth among active players with at least 60 playoff games, behind Pittsburgh Penguins centers Sidney Crosby (1.13) and Evgeni Malkin (1.04), Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (0.98), Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane (0.97), and Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf (0.96).

 

They said it

"End of the season they had a real good push. Our team is so good together. Can't wait to see them again and can't wait to be with them and start practicing with them. They have a great chance to push for a good playoff run here." -- forward Oskar Lindblom

 

Projected lineup

Claude Giroux -- Sean Couturier -- Jakub Voracek

Scott Laughton -- Kevin Hayes -- Travis Konecny

James van Riemsdyk -- Derek Grant -- Tyler Pitlick

Michael Raffl -- Nate Thompson -- Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Ivan Provorov -- Matt Niskanen

Travis Sanheim -- Philippe Myers

Robert Hagg -- Justin Braun

Carter Hart

Brian Elliott

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