By Eric Goldstein
The Philadelphia Flyers played their final home preseason game on Saturday night and won’t return to the Wells Fargo Center until the home opener of the regular season on Oct. 9 against the New Jersey Devils.
It will be interesting to see the difference between the lineup new coach Alain Vigneault used over the weekend against the New York Rangers and the one he’ll have in a couple of weeks.
Expect the obvious veterans, including newcomers Kevin Hayes, Justin Braun and Matt Niskanen, in uniform, barring an injury. However, don’t be surprised to see some unexpected names appear on the roster.
The organization has had a handful of young players make a strong impression in training camp and throughout the preseason, and could very well earn a Flyers a sweater to begin the year.
The prime candidates are former No. 1 picks Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee and German Rubtsov, winger Carsen Twarynski and defenseman Phillippe Myers.
Unfortunately, you can probably remove the highly-touted Frost, who is battling a groin injury and is likely finished for the preseason. Farabee, who had 17 goals and 19 assists in 37 games last year for Boston University, has looked solid, as has Rubtsov.
The leading candidate, though, is the unheralded Twarynski, who was on a line with Scott Laughton and Chris Stewart and scored a nifty goal in Saturday’s 4-1 victory.
“For me, the best player on the ice was Twarynski,” Vigneault said on Saturday. “He played a solid game at both ends, (was) good on the forecheck, (and) made some good decisions. There’s no doubt the young man is making a strong case for himself.”
And he didn’t hurt his chances on Monday, either.
Twarynski added his second tally of the preseason and may well make the trip to Switzerland on Friday ahead of the team’s season opener in Prague against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 4. He had 10 goals and 14 assists in 69 games last season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in the AHL.
“I am trying to earn a spot here and I am not a flashy player by any means, but I know the spot I am battling for,” said Twarynski, who is trying to earn a spot on the third or fourth line. “That’s what I’ve done my whole life and what I’m going to keep on doing.”
At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, the 21 year old is deceptively fast and difficult to slow down, or stop, once he gets his skates moving. The Rangers learned that on his goal on Saturday as he raced down the ice with the puck like a locomotive before tucking a rebound into the net.
“When I am going fast is when I am doing my best,” the Calgary native said. “As long as I am moving my feet and playing with guys that understand that and play the same way, it’s going to work well. That’s what you saw (Saturday).”
The injury to Frost was a big blow to his chances to start the year with the Flyers, although he will likely make his NHL debut at some point this season. The same goes for Farabee, who is making the jump from the college ranks and can use some seasoning with the Phantoms.
“With those two young men, you can tell there is tremendous amount of upside and smarts to their game,” Vigneault said. “We have a lot to work with there. It’s just a matter of doing what’s right for the team. That’s what we’re going to do when we make the final decisions.”