LAKE PLACID, N.Y. _ The Flyers had their final day of camp at the Herb Brooks Arena here on Sunday, and from all accounts, their time away from the big city was well-spent.
The four days of camp included long workouts, drills and scrimmages done at breakneck speed, and a bonding session in which trust-building games were played in the woods and mountains.
“Lavy’s idea behind it was team-building, and I think it’s really worked out good,” said John Paddock, director of player personnel, referring to head coach Peter Laviolette by his nickname. “It helps us develop some chemistry early and work on some stuff.”
But perhaps the best part, from the team’s perspective, was that the players got to learn a little more about each other, on and off the ice.
“I think it was great, especially for the new players coming in and getting to know what kind of guys they are,” said captain Claude Giroux, adding that his injured finger was healing nicely and that he plans to play in his first exhibition game Tuesday against the visiting Devils. “When you spend more time with people, obviously you get to know them better and get to know their families and where they’re from. Just little details like that.”
“If you get the system in place and the players understand it, you have a chance to be successful,” Laviolette said. “And then it comes down to the players and how hard they play for each other. I think a lot of that factors into off-the-ice bonds that you build. That’s a difference-maker for me.”
The Flyers have their final three exhibition games this week, hosting the Devils on Tuesday before playing in New Jersey on Thursday and in Washington on Friday.
Those games, Paddock said, “will go a long way to (determine) the three or four spots that are being battled for.”
The Flyers have 27 players left in camp: 15 forwards, 10 defensemen and two goalies. They are expected to keep 23 players. Paddock said it has not been determined how many forwards and defensemen they will keep.
Because of a hectic exhibition schedule early in camp for the Flyers (1-2-1), “the players weren’t pushed very hard in practice,” Paddock said. “They couldn’t be. They were coming off the ice after playing games, and the big thing was to getting through without any injuries.”
The pace intensified greatly in Lake Placid, site of Team USA’s “Miracle on Ice” in the 1980 Olympics.
“They’ve been pushed here harder,” Paddock said. “They practiced a little quicker, a little longer and worked on the system. I think it’s been ideal.”
The Flyers will keep 13 or 14 forwards, and Scott Laughton, Michael Raffl and Chris VandeVelde appear to be battling for the one or two spots.
On the blue line, the Flyers will keep seven or eight defensemen. That means Hal Gill, Bruno Gervais and Oliver Lauridsen may be in contention for a spot. Erik Gustafsson is one of the seven who has locked up a position.
“He’s an NHL player, and that’s where he’s going to be,” Paddock said. “I don’t think any (Flyers) defensemen played better in April or at any time during the season.”
There is also an intriguing battle between the pipes, where Ray Emery and Steve Mason are competing for the job.
“Things aren’t settled here yet,” Laviolette said of the team's roster.
Giroux update. Barring a setback, Giroux, who had finger surgery last month, will play in his first exhibition game Tuesday.
“I’ll know Tuesday morning (for sure), but right now the plan is for me to play Tuesday,” he said after another crisp practice. “But I could wake up tomorrow and not feel good, so we’ll just go day by day.”
Breakaways. Vinny Lecavalier (flu) did not practice. Wayne Simmonds missed Friday’s practice with the flu, but returned for one session on Sunday before leaving early….During the early drills Sunday, Brayden Schenn moved to center to replace Lecavalier, while Simmonds was at right wing and Raffl and VandeVelde(CQ) split time at left wing…..Max Talbot was the third-line left winger Sunday. “He’s a hard-working guy who competed on both sheets of ice for every inch out there and he looked terrific,” Laviolette said….Veteran center Adam Hall played some wing on Sunday.... The Flyers will practice Monday at the Wells Fargo Center at 11 a.m.
Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.