Flyers look to veteran leadership ahead of Bruins contest
The Flyers are working through the preseason to get their locker room ready for the challenges of the regular season.
The Flyers are well aware of the importance of a strong start after the season they had last year.
“It’s hard to chase games in this league, and we did it a ton last year,” forward Scott Laughton said. “It’s hard to come back from that.”
During the offseason, the Flyers made over the roster in an effort to rebound from 2021. With all the new faces they brought in, developing chemistry will go a long way in helping them achieve a strong start. Laughton said they’ve been working to get to know the new players and make them feel welcome, and he hopes that will translate onto the ice once the season begins.
As the Flyers head into their second exhibition game, a 7:30 p.m. contest against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Thursday, they are already down a game after their 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Islanders. The record doesn’t matter until the regular season starts, but once it does, Laughton thinks the increased number of veteran voices will make a difference.
“Having a little bit of an older, veteran presence I think helps, guys that have been around before and have played a ton of games and just can speak up in the room,” Laughton said. “Just their presence around the younger guys and making them feel comfortable.”
With the addition of Cam Atkinson, Ryan Ellis, Keith Yandle, Martin Jones, and Rasmus Ristolainen, the team’s level of combined NHL experience increased dramatically. Defenseman Travis Sanheim is trying to take advantage of that before the season begins.
Sanheim has been paired with Ristolainen and has been impressed with Ristolainen’s physical power. He also plays in the pair behind Ellis, who is five years older, and ahead of Yandle, who is 10 years older.
“They have a lot of good insight on the game and maybe different situations that maybe you weren’t aware of,” Sanheim said of Yandle and Ellis. “So you obviously take it all in.”
Sanheim has been practicing with them in Group A, but he sat back and watched as the first and third lines faced off against the Islanders. The Flyers’ second and fourth shifts, including Laughton and Sanheim, will get their turn to shake the rust off when they take the ice against the Bruins on Thursday.
Carter looks like Carter
Following a strong preseason performance where Carter Hart stopped 17 of 18 shots in 40 minutes, his teammates were asked if anything seemed different about the starting goalie heading into this season.
Both Laughton and Sanheim said no.
“I don’t know if there’s anything specific, but obviously he looked really good,” Sanheim said, with Laughton expressing the same sentiment almost verbatim. “Obviously a positive. I thought he looked really good [Tuesday] night, as well. Good news for us, and I hope he can keep that going.”
Coach Alain Vigneault also didn’t know how to describe the difference in Hart, saying that would be a question for goalie coach Kim Dillabaugh. The best way Vigneault, who called himself “just the associate goalie coach,” could put it was that his “battle level” looked better.
Hart isn’t in the team’s lineup for the Bruins game. He stayed in Voorhees to practice with the rest of the roster from the Islanders game while those who didn’t play headed to Boston. Martin Jones, who the Flyers signed to a one-year deal over the offseason, will start the first two periods with Felix Sandstrom between the pipes for the third.
Egor Zamula, who scored the Flyers first goal of the preseason, has been added to the injured list with a lower body injury. Vigneault said he believes it’s either a groin or hip injury, and he’s being told Zamula will be out 3-4 weeks. The list now includes nine names. ... The game against the Bruins will be shown on TNT. Kenny Albert, Eddie Olczyk, and former Flyer Keith Jones will call the game. ... After taking a maintenance day Wednesday, Atkinson returned for Thursday’s skate in Voorhees. He is not part of the group that will play against the Bruins.