After the exhausted players left the ice Friday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, Flyers right winger Jake Voracek called it the most grueling first day of training camp in his career.
Captain Claude Giroux had similar sentiments, saying the intensity level was “probably one of the best I’ve ever had during camp. It wasn’t easy out there and that’s the kind of camp you want.”
The high-paced opening day _ 27 players were on the ice in the morning, 28 others skated in the afternoon session _ was by design.
“I think our guys worked real hard over the summer,” said coach Dave Hakstol, whose team missed the playoffs last season despite a 10-game winning streak, “….and I just wanted to make sure that the hard work transferred and translated onto the ice. It was a hard day, there’s no question. And you know what, I give a lot of credit to both groups.”
Hakstol said he “liked the older guys in terms that they led the way. Jake’s one of the guys. I thought his level of work and his compete out there were excellent. I thought our veterans led the way, and I thought the young guys were right there pushing.”
There’s a chance Voracek will replace Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (now with Vegas) as one of the alternate captains, though Hakstol said no decision had been made.
The players stayed fit in the off-season, Hakstol said.
“Guys wouldn’t get through tough practices like today at a high level unless they came in in great shape,” he said.
Defensive pairings. The defensive pairings Friday: Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim; Sam Morin and Andrew MacDonald; Mark Friedman, who starred in Wednesday’s rookie game against the Islanders, and Maxim Lamarche; Will O’Neill and Mark Alt; Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg; Radko Gudas and Moorestown’s T.J. Brennan; Phil Myers and Brandon Manning; Reece Willcox and Frank Hora. James de Haas was an extra D-man.
Friedman sounded almost in awe as he talked about being on the ice with Claude Giroux and other established players.
“It’s crazy to pass and skate with guys like Giroux and Provorov,” he said. “You watch them on TV and you’re finally skating with them. It’s cool to see what they do….Just (want to) use it in my game.”
Myers update. Myers, one of the most promising defensemen in the Flyers’ system, was injured and left the ice in the second period of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Islanders in Wednesday’s rookie game. But general manager Ron Hextall said the undisclosed injury was minor and Myers was kept out of the third period because of precautionary reasons.
Myers said he felt no ill effects at Friday’s session.
Breakaways. One of the lines had Val Filppula centering fellow Finn Jori Lehtera and Cole Bardreau, a hard-nosed player who could make the team with an outstanding training camp….Pascal Laberge left the ice with an undisclosed injury…..The Flyers will play an exhibition game Sunday afternoon against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum….Four of the Flyers’ seven preseason games will be televised: Thursday at Boston (NHL Network), Sept. 26 vs. the New York Rangers (The Comcast Network), Sept. 28 vs. Boston (Comcast SportsNet), and Oct. 1 against the Islanders (TCN)…Hakstol plans to play his veterans in four or five exhibition games. “We’ll probably be a little younger in these early games,” he said.