VOORHEES – Training camp for the Flyers ends on Saturday and while it lasted less than two weeks, the team feels there was enough time to get ready for the upcoming playoffs.
James van Riemsdyk believes the Flyers got in enough work to head to Toronto in a good state of mind.
A preseason game against Pittsburgh on Tuesday afternoon at Scotiabank Arena should provide a good final tune-up.
“Going through the process of the last 10 days, we’ve been pretty sharp, pretty business-like,’’ he said during a WebEx call on Friday. “I think we’ve gotten better as we’ve gone on here.
“But I definitely think we came in at a level where we were at a pretty good spot to start with. Now we’re going to get a chance to play an exhibition game and we have those round-robin games, so it will be nice to play against some other competition, some other teams and jack up the competitiveness.’’
Other than goaltender Carter Hart’s somewhat mild back spasms (he missed only one full day of work (Wednesday) before a limited session on Thursday, the Flyers made it through camp pretty much injury-free.
As far as the roster goes, JVR would appear to be in a contest with Joel Farabee for the second-line left wing spot.
But don’t forget the new wild card, namely Oskar Lindblom, who just got a clean bill of health after battling Ewing’s sarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer) and on Wednesday signed a new three-year, $9-million contract.
Who knows? If Lindblom gets up to speed in a hurry, he might wind up on the second line. In fact, both coach Alain Vigneault and general manager Chuck Fletcher have referred to Lindblom as a “top six’’ player.
“It’s unbelievable,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “Since I’ve got a chance to know him here the past couple years, he just has this brave, positive outlook and mindset on life. He’s just always great to be around.
“Again, he’s very deserving (of the new contract) with his type of play. Aside from the health, he came out at the start of this season and took a huge step forward. With the contract, he gets a little more security there. He gets to get himself back to be the player he knows he can be. We’re thrilled for him, first and foremost.’’
Now, with the Flyers about to enter the Toronto “bubble’’ for what could be as much as two-plus months, van Riesmdyk has to feel some gratification. He was on the NHL’s Return to Play committee and so far there haven’t been any glitches.
“It seems like people across the league are kind of buying into that (safety protocols),’’ he said. “Obviously we’re right around the corner here from getting things started and getting games started so it’s super exciting for all of us. We’re really raring to get going.’’
Captain Claude Giroux appeared to ramp up his intensity the second week of camp. He scored an overtime winner in one scrimmage and fired a puck down the ice after a whistle in frustration after missing a scoring chance on Thursday.
“I think we’re on pace to get in the rhythm of a real hockey game and a playoff hockey game,’’ Giroux said. “You need a lot of work. Usually you have 82 games to do that. Right now we’re just trying to speed up the process, get the feel of the puck and get the feel of our system. Hopefully by next week when we play our first pre-tournament game, we’ll have the feel of the puck. It’s going to be challenging for sure.’’
The preseason game against Pittsburgh should be a little more intense than the usual fare back in September. This is the only “live’’ competition against an opponent before the real thing against Boston on Aug. 2.
“I think it’s going to be pretty intense,’’ Giroux said. “You want to get into it, you want to put yourself in positions and situations that you’re going to be put in during the round robin. I think both teams want a little bit of momentum. Make sure you play the right way, make sure everybody follows the system. If you do that, it’s going to give us a step for the round robin games.’’