It’s early in training camp and the lineup the Flyers put on the ice Friday could change several times before the games begin.
Still, it’s interesting that the lines used by coach Alain Vigneault had a twist compared with how the lineup looked when the season was halted March 12 by the coronavirus outbreak.
Perhaps the biggest eye-opener: Rookie Joel Farabee was the second-line left winger and veteran center Nate Thompson was not on the fourth line.
Thompson, acquired at the trade deadline because of his experience, had been the fourth-line center during most of the stretch when the Flyers won nine of their last 10 games before the season was stopped.
James van Riemsdyk’s return to the lineup from a broken finger has caused Vigneault to make some lineup changes.
For now, Farabee has been given the first shot at being the second-line left winger, alongside Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny.
“He’s obviously a very strong candidate to be there and that’s why he started there on Day 1″ of this camp, assistant coach Mike Yeo said after Friday’s sessions in Voorhees. “All along, the plan was to make sure we don’t get stuck with trying one thing and not giving other guys the opportunity.”
There is still a chance that Farabee doesn’t crack the lineup and that someone like Scott Laughton becomes the No. 2 left winger. For now, however, Laughton is centering the third line.
Yeo said the plan was to give Farabee some time on the second line early in camp and then make some lineup tweaks, if necessary, after the intrasquad scrimmage Saturday.
Farabee, 20, played left wing in four of the Flyers’ last 10 games, a stretch in which he was briefly sent down to the Phantoms after the Flyers acquired Derek Grant and Thompson.
“I think the biggest thing right now is just trying to get that chemistry going again,” Farabee said. “Feeling pretty good playing with T.K. and Hayesy. They are definitely two really good linemates.”
Farabee, a former Boston University star who has never played such a long season, said that he feels refreshed from the break and that being in 52 NHL games has boosted his confidence.
“I kind of know where guys are going to be, what kind of play needs to be made,” said Farabee, who had eight goals, 21 points, and a plus-6 rating. “I think once I figured out our systems, I was able to get into a good rhythm. The pause definitely helped me, too. Kind of a reset button.”
When the Flyers went on a roll late in the regular season, Laughton was at left wing -- sometimes on the second line, sometimes on the third unit -- for seven of those 10 games, and he centered the third line three times.
On Friday, a day Vigneault said he wanted to start getting his lineup in place, Laughton centered the third line and had van Riemsdyk and Nic Aube-Kubel as his wingers.
Aube-Kubel had been the fourth-line right winger during the Flyers’ last 20 games.
Grant, the Flyers’ third-line center during most of their nine-game winning streak late in the season, was dropped down to the fourth line in camp drills Friday. Michael Raffl and Tyler Pitlick (who had been on the third line) were his wingers.
Since Vigneault gives his third and fourth liners extensive minutes, the distinction between those units is minimal.
Thompson, 35, was on an “extra” line Friday, centering Carsen Twarynski and Connor Bunnaman. When the season resumes Aug. 2 against Boston, Thompson hopes to have earned a spot.
Yeo likes what he brings.
When you think about “playoff hockey, you always need players who have roles,” Yeo said, adding that Thompson’s experience, penalty killing, and strength on faceoffs make him a valuable player.
The Flyers went 6-1 after Thompson (one point, plus-1) and Grant (five points) were acquired. Now Thompson is battling to stay in the lineup.
”I’m always fighting for playing time,” the 6-foot-1, 207-pound Thompson, said. “That’s just how it goes. That’s what it’s been my whole career. A similar thing happened to me when I was in Montreal. I was fighting for a spot. To be honest, that’s kind of what’s kept me in the league so long. I think having to know you can’t get comfortable, it pushes me.”