PHILADELPHIA – There was a decent chance center Morgan Frost might make the Flyers’ opening night roster even before Nolan Patrick got hurt.
But now that Patrick (upper-body injury) remains questionable for the Oct. 4 game in the Czech Republic, Frost’s stock has risen even more.
Frost continues to impress in this preseason. He centered a line with fellow rookie Joel Farabee and veteran Michael Raffl on Saturday night in a 4-1 win (Philadelphia’s first of the preseason) over the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center.
Last year, Frost was an early roster cut in training camp. But the disappointment didn’t affect his performance at Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL, posting 109 points in 58 games.
In this preseason, Frost seems more mature, both on and off the ice.
He survived Friday night’s roster cut, when 18 hopefuls were sent packing, reducing the roster to 36 players.
“I think camp has been pretty good so far and it’s definitely nice to survive that kind of first big round of cuts,’’ Frost said.
“I’m excited to still be here and try and prove I can make the team.’’
As is almost always the case, for young players it’s about picking up on the speed of the NHL game.
“I think practicing against some of the best players on the team has accustomed me for the games,’’ Frost said. “The last game was kind of learning the speed of the game and as it went on, I got better.’’
After the game, Frost said he’s getting more comfortable with his surroundings. Frost has been earning scoring chances, they just haven’t gone in so far.
“Every game I think I’m getting more confident with the puck,’’ he said. “Every game, I’m getting more comfortable with the speed of the game. I think I addressed it pretty well tonight.’’
Added James van Riemsdyk: “I think he (Frost) was really good. He’s getting more and more poised and confident as camp goes on. I think generally that’s how it works for the younger guys. You figure out the things you can and can’t get away with.’’
>Power play clicks
The win over the Rangers was encouraging on several fronts.
A power-play goal by JVR at 18:04 of the first period ended an 0-for-13 skid in that department.
Jake Voracek also scored on the power play at 5:08 of the third, so it looks like the Flyers are starting to figure things out.
Head coach Alain Vigneault watched the game from the press box, something he does once each preseason.
“I saw a lot of things that I liked,’’ Vigneault said. “I saw some awareness of good defense, quick transition, the pace we’ve been talking about.
“Our power play and our penalty kill, it’s a process we’ve started to look at. Tonight the power play got some good looks. Puck battles, I thought we were a lot better. We made some smarter plays, some smarter decisions. That’s what we needed to see.’’
Kevin Hayes, a former Ranger, made it 2-0 at 19:36. In the second period, Carsen Twarynski scored at 12:58.
Goalie Carter Hart turned in 40 minutes of scoreless hockey and has not been scored upon in 70:02 this preseason.
The Flyers obviously weren’t happy with Thursday’s 3-1 loss to Boston, which might have moved up the date for the first big roster cut from next Monday to this past Friday.
“By shortening up the group and getting down on numbers, I felt that we needed to do this. I expected our group to go out and work hard tonight,’’ Vigneault said. “We tried to apply some of the things we’ve been working on.’’
Getting two power-play goals would seem to indicate the Flyers are back on the right track.
“In the last four or five days, we’ve had more meetings about the power play,’’ Vigneault said. “Tonight we gave different looks – it was a power play that not only scored but gave us momentum in the game.
“It was efficient and going to the net and having some bodies there is always a good thing.’’
The Flyers still haven’t given up a power-play goal in the preseason.
>Gostisbehere getting some penalty kill time
Going into game against the Rangers, the Flyers had crafted a perfect mark on the penalty kill in three preseason games.
We bring this to your attention because the Flyers’ shorthanded crew last season was, to it kindly, awful.
Actually, 26th in the 31-team NHL to be exact.
That’s one of the reasons why the Flyers weren’t a playoff team.
So changes could be in order and would you believe it? One of the new faces on the man-disadvantage unit happens to be Mr. Offensive Defenseman, aka, Shayne Gostisbehere.
It’s a whole new role for Gostisbehere, who says he hasn’t played on the penalty kill since leading Union College to a 7-4 upset of the University of Minnesota in the 2014 NCAA Division I championship game.
But he’s willing to give it a try with the Flyers if it will help the cause.
So far, it looks like assistant coach Mike Yeo, who runs the penalty kill, is trying to take a more aggressive approach.
“Yeah, it’s pretty new,’’ Gostisbehere said. “With Yeo’s system on the PK, it’s a four-man unit. . .you see one guy going and you have to play off each other.
“If one guy stops and doesn’t put the pressure on, it kind of falls apart.’’
Quick movement might be to Gostisbehere’s advantage.
“It kind of works to my ability,’’ “Ghost’’ said. “Putting pressure, using my skating ability to get on guys. Use my smarts to clear pucks.
“Obviously I don’t know if I’ll be on the PK (in the regular season) but I’m going to try and do my best.’’
>A bigger Hart to open season
Apparently Hart is still a growing boy.
Last year he was listed at 185 pounds. But after a summer in which he seemed to “feel hungry’’ all the time, Hart put on six pounds to check in at 191.
That said, he insists the extra poundage has not slowed him at all.
“I was eating a full meal at breakfast, coming home after working out and eating another full meal,’’ he said. “Go skating, come home and eat another full meal.
“I was pretty hungry a lot.’’
The extra weight might work in Hart’s favor as player’s tend to lose weight as the season wears on.
“I told my trainer I wanted to add some weight, some muscle,’’ Hart said. “But keep my flexibility up, kept my cardiovascular up.
“Honestly, I feel stronger and quicker in the net.’’