1) After a complete off-day on Tuesday, the Flyers return to practice in the Bubble in Toronto later today. Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault has already indicated that Joel Farabee will be in the lineup (in place of the injured Michael Raffl) for Thursday's round-robin game against Washington. Vigneault said that's also contemplating a lineup adjustment or two, but had not made up his mind on that as of Monday. Practice is set for for 2:30 p.m. but Vigneault will address the media via Zoom three hours ahead of the session on the ice.
2) Vigneault typically announces his starting goaltender for the next game one day ahead of the game. Does he roll with Carter Hart again versus Washington, after Hart was stellar on Sunday against Boston? Or does he tab the Caps game as the round robin game in which he gets Brian Elliott (who beat Washington twice this season) a start? Also to consider: If Elliott goes against the Capitals, Hart will be six days removed from the Boston match by the time he returns to game action.
If it were my call to make, I'd go with Hart against the Capitals and then give Elliott the start against the Lightning in the final game of the round robin. However, there's a case to be made for either option. On today's edition of Flyers Daily with Jason Myrtetus, choosing Thursday's starting goaltender is one of many topics that we cover in the 32-minute episode.
3) Hockey Sverige and Gefle Dagblad reported on Tuesday that Flyers left winger Oskar Lindblom is still in his hometown of Gävle. After spending a few days visiting family and friends to celebrate being in remission from Ewing Sarcoma, Lindblom has begun training with his old SHL team (Brynäs IF) in order to prepare to join the Flyers in Toronto. Lindblom said that he feels his conditioning is getting better each day. Although there is no timetable set for him to potentially play in the NHL postseason, he will keep working toward being ready to play and see where it leads him.
4) On the Flyers official website, we took a look at how Flyers defensemen Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers have begun to spread their wings and emerge as highly effective NHL players, both in tandem and individually, on a sustained basis. As with all young players but especially with defensemen, there was a learning curve to navigate as they put in a lot of hard work in converting the raw materials of potential into more consistent results on the ice. They toiled for their opportunities and then made the most of the chance.
5) On a related note, as much as the Flyers organization has been plagued by the "goaltending is the franchise Achilles heel since Bernie/Pelle/Hexy" canard (before Carter Hart came along), the real sore spot over the years was an extremely prolonged inability to draft/develop quality NHL defensemen. For many years, the overtrading of assets and the overspending on veteran defensemen brought in from outside the organization was a vicious circle of self-perpetuation driven by the dearth of higher-end defense prospects in the system.
Of all the farm-system related accomplishments of the Ron Hextall/Chris Pryor years (which started in 2012 and 2013 in Paul Holmgren's final two drafts but significantly picked up steam in 2014 and onward), it's been the amateur scouting and developmental coaching of young defensemen that was the biggest success story in my opinion. The signing of Myers as an undrafted free agent, followed later by Egor Zamula entering the organization by the same path, was an extension of the same process.
Even now, although it hurt a bit to lose the rights to Wyatt Kalynuk for nothing, there's still enough depth in the Flyers system to withstand his decision to sign with Chicago. The recent historical trend toward well-orchestrated drafting of D-men has also shown some early promising signs in the Chuck Fletcher/Brent Flahr regime, especially in the drafting last year of Cam York.
That has been very gratifying to see, and also something that was of vital importance. When the Flyers brought in veterans Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun last season, it was to help along the young D corps to further emerge via the addition of a pair of vets who were still solid NHL players in their own right. Adding stabilizing pieces is not the same as over-relying on such players to take most of the load on their own shoulders.
The lack of Grade A/B prospects and over-dealing of assets is how you end up having to cross your fingers that a reclamation project player clicks (ala the acquisition of Michael Del Zotto before his first year with the Flyers) and how older vets nearing the end of commendable careers (Nick Schultz, for instance) and serviceable role players ended up in bigger-than-ideal roles (for instance, the difference between Nick Grossmann as an 18-19 minute player versus a 15-16 minute guy).
6) Phantoms/Flyers goaltender Alex Lyon has been filing video blogs from the Bubble for the Phantoms' YouTube channel. In Episode 2, Lyon takes viewers on a tour of the facilities at Hotel X, shows the modest progress he's made in unpacking his suitcase and proclaims his love for the bathtub in his hotel room. Lyon, who is one of the most personable players you'll ever meet, has a good sense of comic timing; such as when the Yale alum puzzles over whether he really can see Hawaii and the Pacific Ocean from his Toronto hotel room.