Outdoor game could be door of opportunity for Friedman

Ivan Provorov

For most of the Flyers playing in the Lake Tahoe outdoors game, the objective is two points.

For rookie Mark Friedman, there could be a lot more at stake.

Flyers coach Alain Vigneault decided to dress Friedman for the Bruins game not only at his accustomed defense spot, but as a forward as well.

With this game being contested in front of a national TV audience, Friedman’s performance was expected to be squarely in the spotlight.

A good effort could help the 25-year-old Toronto native stay in contention for a roster spot.

Friedman did manage to get into six games with the Flyers last season. So far this season, the Flyers have not had any significant absences other than Shayne Gostisbehere and Justin Braun missing some games due to COVID-19 protocol.

Prior to the game, Friedman discussed what this game might mean to his chances down the road. At his age, the last thing the third-round draft pick (2014) wants to be tagged is a career minor leaguer.

Friedman has a bit of Travis Konecny in him when it comes to chirping and getting under opponents’ skin. That might help punch his ticket to the NHL on a steady basis.

“If that’s what it takes, yeah,’’ Friedman said with a smile during a media Zoom call on Sunday afternoon. “I’ve got big Sammy (Morin) on my line, so hopefully he’ll have my back. It could get a little feisty out there so I’ll see if I can get under some guys’ skin.’’

Just getting this opportunity shows Friedman that Vigneault has some trust in his abilities.

“It’s always nice getting some confidence from the coach,’’ Friedman said. “I’m really looking forward to it.’’

The forward position might be foreign to Friedman but he could be a quick learner. After all, he’s defending forwards all the time. How hard can it be?

“It will be fun,’’ Friedman predicted. “It will be a new opportunity for me. The last time I played forward I was like 10 years old. We’ll see how it goes. . .keep it real simple if I get the opportunity to play up there.

“On defense I’m just going to play my game.’’

Up front, Friedman was scheduled to play right wing on a line with another converted defenseman, Morin, plus center Andy Andreoff.

>Gostisbehere no stranger to outdoor games

Gostisbehere grew up in Pembroke Pines, Florida, so there was no real chance to play outdoor hockey. But Sunday night’s game was his fourth game minus a roof, including one when he played for Union College in upstate New York.

“It’s a special experience,’’ Gostisbehere said. “Obviously the three (games) before had fans and this doesn’t. This one is next to a lake on a golf course so it’s definitely different.

“I think just being with the boys and staying busy, walking around here, it’s beautiful. The schedule is going to be the schedule, so you just have to roll with the punches.’’

>Provorov to tie record

When defenseman Ivan Provorov steps on the ice at Lake Tahoe, he will be playing in his 330th consecutive game, which ties the NHL record held by Dan Girardi for most games played by a defenseman from the start of a career without a miss (for one team). Provorov has the second-longest ironman streak in team history now, trailing only Rod Brind’Amour’s record of 484.

About Wayne Fish 1449 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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