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Quick Hits: JVR, Injury Updates, Fletcher on first 10 GP, World Cancer Day

February 2, 2021, 3:31 PM ET [41 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Quick Hits: February 2, 2021

1) The Flyers held a brief practice (11:40 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.) at the Skate Zone in Voorhees on Tuesday, in advance of hosting the Boston Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center. I was unable to attend practice today, but Charlie O'Connor tweeted the line combinations.

28 Claude Giroux - 19 Nolan Patrick - 93 Jakub Voracek
23 Oskar Lindblom - 13 Kevin Hayes - 11 Travis Konecny
25 James van Riemsdyk - 21 Scott Laughton - 86 Joel Farabee
12 Michael Raffl - 82 Connor Bunnaman - 62 Nicolas Aube-Kubel

9 Ivan Provorov - 53 Shayne Gostisbehere
6 Travis Sanheim - 5 Phil Myers
56 Erik Gustafsson - 61 Justin Braun
8 Robert Hägg - 39 Nate Prosser

79 Carter Hart
37 Brian Elliott

Per Charlie, Sean Couturier skated with the Taxi Squad group as he continues to gradually work his way back toward a return. Mark Friedman was on the Flyers (main group) rink before practice but took practice itself with the Taxi Squad group. Samuel Morin was also in the Taxi Squad practice.

2) James van Riemsdyk was named NHL Eastern Division Player of the Month for January. During the Flyers' post-practice remote media availability, I asked him if awards and honors such as those have personal meaning to him.

JVR responded that things such as this are something you look back at after a career as an honor you collected along the way. For now and at this stage of his career, however, he takes it in stride and keeps his focus on how the team is playing.

van Riemsdyk, who has 13 points (5g, 8a) in the first 10 games and has played some of the best two-way hockey of his career, attributes his offensive totals to having some early puck luck but added that he is feeling very confident in his game. He said that, over the last few years, he devotes extra work time on the ice to focusing on small details that are important to his game (such as board play) as well as trying to sharpen certain areas that can add to his repertoire (such as carrying the puck more).

3) Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher also spoke to the media today. He discussed the sate of the team after 10 games and also provided several injury updates (not much good news on the latter front). We'll start with the injury updates first and then takeaways from his assessment of the team. A full transcript will follow later.

* Sean Couturier may be 7 to 10 days from being ready to play. That is not set in stone yet and it's too soon to say the Selke Trophy winner is day-to-day. A more precise timetable should be known within a few days.

* Rookie center Morgan Frost, a second-year pro, must undergo shoulder surgery to repair the dislocation he suffered in the second game against Buffalo. He will be out "months" and it is unlikely that he will play again this season, although it is possible he could beat that timetable. The main focus is on a complete recovery and getting him ready to compete for an NHL spot next year.

* First-year pro winger Wade Allison recently underwent ankle surgery to correct a lingering issue that was hindering him early in training camp. His timetable is about four to five weeks before he could play, according to Fletcher.

* Second-year pro left winger Isaac Ratcliffe has had a rough time, with a rib injury and a collapsed lung. He is about four weeks from being able to take practice (after missing all of camp) and several more weeks beyond that before he might be ready to play.

* I didn't ask Fletcher for a Tanner Laczynski update because the first-year pro spoke during the Phantoms recent media availability session. Laczynski said he's feeling a lot better and should be good to go for the regular season. Head coach Scott Gordon indicated that the versatile forward, who can play any positon up front, will start out at center.

* Fletcher was asked if door was open for Matt Niskanen to return. The GM said they stay in touch and Flyers haven’t terminated his contract but Niskanen is content with his retirement decision.

* Fletcher is pleased with the team's 7-2-1 record but not fooled by it. He said the process needs to improve. At the same time, he noted the will to win is high and the team deserves credit for different players and different elements (goaltending, PK, opportunistic goals) being the difference maker in finding ways to win despite being at less than peak form. The team is not back to where it was at the time of the pause last season, and needs to reach another level of being tough to play against and executing better. He said that while some of the playmaking has been excellent and led to some Grade-A chances and a high shooting percentage, there are also downsides in terms of more pucks being turned over for transition rushes, more one-and-done rushes and reduced puck possession time.

* Fletcher was asked to evaluate the mix of players on the blueline. He said that he's not sure yet after 10 games. Said that the forwards have made life hard on the defense and the goalies by not playing responsibly enough in the 200-foot game. In general, the team needs better puck management in the neutral zone, a more sustained forecheck, and more of a shooting mentality.

* Fletcher on whether a physical player need to be added: "I don't know." Said the last game against the Isles was pretty physical and even. A lot had to do with the play of the Raffl-Bunnaman-NAK line. "When you say physical, to me it's about winning 50-50 battles. If you don't want to defend, make other team defend more," Fletcher said.

4) On the new edition of Broadcasters' Roundtable on the Flyers Broadcast Network, Tim Saunders, Jim Jackson, Steve Coates and I discuss the Flyers' 7-2-1 record through the first 10 games of the season. What has worked? What needs to get better? (Coatesy and Timmy also share some old Eddie Shore stories). To listen to the 29-minute podcast, click here.

On the Flyers official website, I wrote an in-depth companion analysis article to discuss four things that have gone right for the Flyers in collecting 15 points in 10 games and four areas that must improve for the success to be sustained: Click here.

5) The Flyers put out the following press release earlier today about the team's involvement in World Cancer Day 2021:

The Philadelphia Flyers are joining the Eastern Pennsylvania & Delaware Region of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center to host an interactive and inspirational broadcast event honoring cancer patients and survivors on World Cancer Day, February 4. The virtual Facebook Live event, Bringing Light to Patients on World Cancer Day, will share messages of hope and strength to viewers actively going through cancer treatments at Penn Medicine and virtually across the region to survivors, caregivers, friends and family.

Bringing Light to Patients on World Cancer Day will kick off at 2 p.m. and include a familiar cast of faces from the Flyers organization. Having recently announced his remission following a year-long battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma, Flyers forward Oskar Lindblom will participate as the event’s “Survivor Spotlight,” sharing his story alongside host Andrea Helfrich.

Lindblom’s teammates Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes and Scott Laughton, in addition to Flyers Alumni Bob ‘The Hound’ Kelly, will also be featured providing “Messages of Hope” for patients and announcer Lou Nolan will take us through an interactive Light The Night experience. As expected, Gritty will be a highlight and cheerful addition, opening and closing the event with a special message.

The virtual event link is open to the public and can be accessed via the Flyers Charities Facebook page.

World Cancer Day is an international day marked on February 4 to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection and treatment. World Cancer Day is led by the Union for International Cancer Control to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, written in 2008.
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