VOORHEES – Just call them “Lehigh Valley South.’’
That’s because nine players not on the Flyers’ opening night roster have made at least one appearance with the big team via call-up from the Phantoms this season.
Some might think that would be a little cause for concern, especially for an outfit that has a new head coach and is trying to develop chemistry.
But the Flyers say all this movement – some of it caused by injuries, some just to get a look at promising prospects – is not necessarily a bad thing.
Actually, it might even improve morale on the Phantoms’ roster and heighten the energy level in Philadelphia.
The list on the current Flyers’ roster includes recent call-ups Mark Friedman and David Kase, plus Philippe Myers, Joel Farabee and Nicolas Aube-Kubel (who were called up earlier and remain here).
Those getting previous looks were Mikhail Vorobyev, Morgan Frost, German Rubtsov and Andy Andreoff.
Friedman, who was brought in when Shayne Gostisbehere went down with a knee injury (surgery this Tuesday, out three weeks), believes having “hope’’ of getting a peek at the NHL can be a positive thing.
“You never know what’s going to happen,’’ Friedman said after Friday’s practice at the Skate Zone. “You just have to take advantage of your opportunity when it comes.
“For me, I’ve just been steady. When I’m down at Lehigh, I’m just playing my game, focusing on day-by-day, not the future. It’s gotten me here today and I’m hoping I can stay as long as I can.’’
The defenseman was paired with Robert Hagg in Wednesday night’s 3-2 win over NHL-leading Washington. He’s expecting another big test on Saturday when the Flyers play host to Tampa Bay, which has won nine straight games.
“You just have to play your game,’’ Friedman said. “You can’t play scared, you can’t play nervous. Things will take care of themselves.’’
Any concerns about lines and defense pairings being mixed up all the time?
“I’ve been through three training camps,’’ Friedman said. “I know the guys pretty well. I live with Aube-Kubel up there in Lehigh. We do everything together. It’s nice to have him up here.’’
On his initial call-up in December, Kase made a good first impression by scoring a game-winning goal.
“You never know who they’re going to call up,’’ Kase said. “I’m very happy I get another chance. I got a look at hockey here and saw what I needed to work on down there.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault let it be known in training camp that there would be a lot of player movement in the first part of the season.
The opening night roster included Connor Bunnaman and Carsen Twarynski and they are now playing with the Phantoms.
All this player movement doesn’t concern Vigneault.
“You know that if you play well, there’s a chance that you might get called up,’’ the coach said. “For any young player, the goal is to play in the best league in the world. They have to play well, I have to get good feedback from Scotty (Phantoms coach Scott Gordon) and if I do and I need somebody, we go with what he’s thinking at the time.’’
Added Scott Laughton, who spent a whole season in the minors: “For them, I think it’s pretty positive. You come up, you get the experience, you see what the league’s all about. I think it makes you hungrier. When you go down, you want to come back as quickly as possible.’’
>Lindblom pays a visit
Oskar Lindblom, sidelined for probably the rest of the season as he battles a rare form of bone cancer, paid a visit to the Skate Zone and it was a welcome sight.
“He’s in good spirits,’’ Vigneault said. “He’s looking real good. The guys call him ‘Sunshine’ in that movie ‘Remember the Titans,’ you know the quarterback, he looks just like him. He has the same beautiful smile.’’
This is the first time the Flyers have seen Lindblom in quite some time, partly because of their recent 12-day road trip.
“The (chemo) treatments are going well,’’ Vigneault said. “Best part of my day so far.’’
The coach said the players couldn’t shake hands or hug Lindblom because of the risk of infection.
“But it’s good for him to be around the boys,’’ Vigneault said. “It’s good for everybody to see him in real good spirits.’’
>Tampa offers tough test
After a slow start, the Tampa has caught fire and moved to within a handful of points of Atlantic Division-leading Boston.
The usual suspects are leading the charge – namely Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Alex Killorn.
“The same team that was on a tear for the 82-game schedule last season, best team in the league by far is playing right now on all cylinders,’’ Vigneault said. “So we have a great challenge in front of us that’s going to take our best game.’’
Carter Hart will start in goal for the Flyers. He’s been sensational at home, with a 12-1-2 mark, a 1.52 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage.
Laughton expects a good challenge.
“It’s going to be a really good test,’’ Laughton said. “This month, before and after the (schedule) break, this is where we really turn on the jets. It’s a good challenge but at the same time we have to dictate the play.’’
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