PHILADELPHIA – They’re going to be a tough nut to crack.
Like most contending teams over the years, the Flyers don’t have a lot of openings on their roster at the start of the season.
Sunday night’s intrasquad scrimmage at the Wells Fargo Center seemed to confirm that.
The Flyers have a bunch of talented prospects on their training camp roster but right now it’s difficult to imagine any of them making this team, at least at the outset.
It looks like the taxi squad at best for this group.
Coach Alain Vigneault kept together the top four lines he’s been using in training camp and those are looking like a good bet for Wednesday night’s home opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Of note, Nolan Patrick scored a goal in Team White’s win over Team Orange.
Patrick’s goal late in the second period offered further proof he has made significant progress in his rehab after missing an entire season due to a chronic migraine headache condition.
“For Nolan, I think he got better as the game went on,’’ Vigneault said. “For a young man who hadn’t played a game (for a year), I thought he did a lot of the right things on the ice.’’
Patrick seems to be clicking right along at center between veteran wingers Jake Voracek and James van Riemsdyk.
“I thought that line had some good moments,’’ Vigneault observed. “So I think for him and our team, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.’’
Patrick’s spirits appeared to be up as he took part in a post-game Zoom call.
“It’s nice to be back, it’s been a long time,’’ Patrick said. “No one ever wants to be out that long. It’s just really exciting to be back with the team. I guess it went pretty well (tonight).’’
Patrick has played with Voracek and JVR in the past so there is some history to harken back to.
“I played with both of them, played with Jake a lot,’’ Patrick said. “So I think we read off each other and they’re both very smart players. I made a few mistakes but I think our line made quite a few scoring chances. It was fun being out there.’’
As for roster decisions, veterans seem to be making Vigneault’s job fairly easy. Sunday night’s event helped with that.
Vigneault said he will meet with his staff over the next day or two to finalize his roster and decide which players go to the taxi squad.
“There are a few guys tonight we had to make decisions on,’’ Vigneault said. “As far as starting with our group, starting with the taxi squad. We just had a brief conversation with (general manager) Chuck (Fletcher). . .we’re going to sleep on it.
“I felt for the first time in game conditions, we accomplished everything we wanted.’’
Right now, Sean Couturier with Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konency make up the first line. There’s the Patrick third line and a second line of Kevin Hayes (who scored a pair of goals), Claude Giroux and Joel Farabee. Scott Laughton centers the fourth line between Michael Raffl and Aube-Kubel.
At the end of the scrimmage, the Flyers practiced an overtime session then did a mock shootout, with Raffl finally scoring in the ninth round to end the proceedings.
>Gostisbehere, Allison on unavailable list
Both defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and forward Wade Allison were unavailable for action and did not dress for the scrimmage.
Vigneault explained on Saturday that NHL teams are not allowed to go into details on injuries or illnesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
>Key camp for Foerster
First-round draft pick Tyson Foerster knows this training camp is fairly important to his development because there was no prospect/rookie development camp as there usually is during the offseason.
“I think it was huge for me to get in here and see everything around the city and come to the Skate Zone and train here and get better with the guys,’’ Foerster said during a media Zoom call on Sunday. “I think it was very important for me to get down here after a long nine months of just training at home to get to know these guys and skate with them.’’
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