There’s a good reason why defenseman Nick Seeler has been one of only two Flyers to play in the first pair of preseason games.
It’s because coach Alain Vigneault wants to get a good look at the Eden Prairie, Minnesota native to see where he fits in the competition for the No. 7 defenseman spot on the roster.
Seeler delivered a couple big hits and played a responsible defensive game during a 4-2 loss to the Bruins on Thursday night at TD Garden in Boston.
Currently, Seeler is up against former No. 1 draft pick Cam York and NHL veteran Adam Clendening for the right to stay with the Flyers. Seeler, 28, seems to be holding his own.
“I’m just doing what I can and playing my game,’’ Seeler said via media Zoom call after the game. “There’s a spot to fill and I’m certainly doing everything in my power to control what I can and just play how I know how to play.’’
It doesn’t hurt Seeler was selected in the fifth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by none other than former Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher, who currently runs the Flyers operation.
“I’m excited for the new opportunity,’’ Seeler said. “Chuck and I have known each other since I was 18 years old. He drafted me out of high school. We have a really good relationship. We have mutual respect. He’s always treated me well. I jumped at the opportunity to play for him again. Just being here a couple weeks, you can tell what a great-run organization this is. I felt welcome since I’ve been here.’’
Vigneault is keeping an open mind about the process but he gives Seeler a pretty positive evaluation.
“Other than his two penalties, I thought he (Seeler) played hard,’’ Vigneault said. “He blocked some shots, he was physical. I’m getting a pretty good read on what he can do and what he can bring.’’
The No. 7 post is important because injuries do happen throughout the course of the season.
“That No. 7 defenseman is going to play anywhere from 50 to 60 games in a given season,’’ Vigneault said. “It’s really important. I would say right now that battle is up in the air. We’re just at the start of our exhibition games. We’ve got a couple good veterans who have played some games in the NHL. Cam York has some potential, whether he’s ready or not, these next few weeks will tell us.’’
As for the game, the Flyers started off well but things went downhill quickly due to some cross-checking penalties, resulting in Boston goals. Joel Farabee scored the first of two goals, then Boston connected for three straight against Flyers goalie Martin Jones.
Combined with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders on Tuesday, the Flyers are 0-2 in the preseason.
Old Flyer nemesis Brad Marchand connected for Boston’s first goal at 9:17 and Craig Smith made it 2-0 at 12:23. Taylor Hall assisted on Marchand’s goal as well as Brandan Carlo’s at 18:41. In the second period, Jake DeBrusk scored at 18:31 for a three-goal edge.
Farabee scored a power-play goal at 9;40 of the third to close the scoring.
In fairness, the Flyers used a lot of unproven players while Boston went with its top line of Patrice Bergeron, Marchand and David Pastrnak.
“They’re really good players,’’ said Morgan Frost. “It’s tough but I really want to play in this league and I have to be willing to take on challenges like that. I had a couple good shifts, a couple bad shifts. But it was good to get the first game out of the way.’’
Added Farabee: “That was basically their top lineup so it was a good challenge for us. I thought we did some good things but there are some things to work on. As training camp finishes up and we play games, we’ll try to clean some things up.’’
Jones surrendered the first two Boston goals off power plays and the third was a deflection off Linus Sandin’s stick. At this stage, Jones is just trying to get comfortable with his new team.
“I felt all right,’’ Jones said. “Sometimes it takes a little time to feel comfortable and find your rhythm. You like to get the first one out of the way and start building off that.’’
Although the game was not tied at the end of the game, the two teams staged a shootout for practice purposes. DeBrusk scored the only goal in the extra exhibition for a Boston victory there, too.
>Zamula out 3-4 weeks
Flyers rookie defenseman Egor Zamula has been diagnosed with a hip/groin strain and is expected to miss three to four weeks.
If that timeframe holds, Zamula should be ready for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms opener on Oct. 23. There was only a slight chance Zamula was going to make the Flyers’ roster so this shouldn’t be a big setback for the young Russian.