VOORHEES – There haven’t been any injuries to the Flyers defense to date and all six have been playing pretty well, so that’s a good thing for everyone.
Everyone, that is, except Sam Morin.
The towering rookie backliner has been sitting out the first seven games as the team’s seventh (spare) backliner, so all he can do is practice hard and try to catch coach Alain Vigneault’s eye.
From the sound of Vigneault’s comments on Tuesday, Morin has managed to do just that.
“I would like to get Sam Morin in the lineup,’’ Vigneault said after practice at the Skate Zone. “He’s a young man who hasn’t played a lot of hockey in the last couple years (partly due to torn ACL in his knee).
“I’ve liked what I’ve seen in practice, I liked what I saw in exhibition (season). Our six defensemen are playing well. They’ve all had some good moments and some very good moments and some other so-so moments.
“None of them has played themselves out of the lineup so Sam is going to have to be patient. When we put him in, it’s not going to be the ideal situation but he’s going to have to play well.’’
Morin, 24, is a former first-round (11th overall) pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. At 6-foot-6, he has the size and reach to intimidate opposing forwards.
Yet he only has played in a handful of NHL games, so a breaking-in period still awaits.
“What we know is what we see in practice,’’ Vigneault said. “He’s a hard-working young man. He’s going to get the chance to play here at some point. It’s not going to be easy because he hasn’t played in a while but that’s just the situation he’s faced with.’’
Morin sounds like he’s happy just to be here. If Philippe Myers, who was sent down at the end of training camp, had been forced to clear waivers at the end of camp, Morin might have been the one now playing in Allentown.
“Obviously when you’re not playing it’s not fun,’’ he said. “Right now I’m taking every practice like a game. Like in practice, I try to block shots, do all that little stuff you do in games.
“I’m working really hard, I’m in a tough spot. If I’m back in the lineup, sooner or later, it’s going to be hard, right? But right now I’m really proud of myself, I have a good attitude. I think the guys notice that and I think the coach knows that I work hard in practice.’’
>Balanced power-play scoring
For years, the Flyers have relied on their first power-play unit (Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Sean Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere, along with a fifth piece such as James van Riemsdyk, Brayden Schenn and even Scott Hartnell).
Recently, Vigneault rearranged things. He’s used his line of Couturier, Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom and point man Ivan Provorov on the second unit.
As of today, the second unit is outscoring the first, 5-3.
Considering a couple years ago the second unit scored only ONE goal all season, that’s saying something.
Why is this unit so effective?
“I think there are a couple different looks we have,’’ Konecny said. “It just seems to be working right now.’’
The second unit cashed in for both of the Flyers’ power-play goals in Monday night’s 6-2 win over Vegas.
“We’re moving the puck and not trying to do too much,’’ Konecny explained. “Just get pucks to the net. And if we can score off the rush, why not take it to the net?’’
Assistant coach Michel Therrien deserves some of the credit, according to Couturier.
“He’s been great,’’ Couturier said. “Ever since he’s gotten here, he emphasizes getting pucks to the net. He’s all business out there, not being loose – try to have that killer instinct when you’re out there.
“You try to gain momentum out of the power play, even if you don’t score. So far it’s worked out.’’