The Flyers preseason schedule was a stretch of 7 games, from September 16th to September 30th. The Flyers played the Bruins, Rangers, Islanders, and then a Global Series game in Switzerland vs. Lausanne HC. The Flyers went 1-3-3 in those 7 games. In the first two games the Flyers lost to NYI, 3-1 at home, and 3-2 in OT the next night in New York. In the first game, the Flyers had some veteran players in the lineup. Kevin Hayes, Jake Voracek, and James Van Reimsdyk looked very good together, producing the only Flyers goal of the game scored by JVR on a great play by Hayes, as he centered it in front and JVR tipped it home. Brian Elliot started, giving up 1 goal on 9 shots, while only playing half the game as Alex Lyon came in midway through the second period giving up 1 goal on three shots. Justin Braun and Shayne Gostibehere were two of the veterans on defense, both averaging 31 minutes of ice time. The next game had more rookies in the lineup. Scott Laughton, Michael Raffl, Travis Sanhiem, Robert Hagg, and Carter Hart were the only 5 players that were on the team last season that played. Hart started this game, looking very solid stopping all 14 shots faced. Jean-Francois Berube came in midway and gave up 3 goals on 23 shots. Berube looked ok, two of the three goals were not his fault, as Matt Barzal made two great passes on the Brassard and Eberle goals. The game winner, not so much, as Berube dropped the puck in the crease off the shot from Lee, and Jobst skated in and tapped it home to give the Isles the 3-2 OT win.
In the 9/19 game against Boston, the Flyers were looking to seek their first win, with a more veteran presence in the lineup. Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier made their first start in the lineup. Hayes, Voracek, JVR all played in this game as well. Ivan Provorov played his first game back after signing a contract extension, and Matt Niskanen played his first game in a Flyers uniform. It seemed Morgan Frost & Joel Farabee were both snakebitten in this game. Frost got robbed by Halak on a 2 on 1 with Andreoff early in the first period. Boston would go up 1-0 as Danton Heinen gets a tap in goal wide open in the slot, but about 4 minutes later Matt Niskanen would get a goal to make it 1-1. Later in the first, Morgan Frost got robbed again by Halak on a behind the back glove save, keeping the game tied. The Flyers would end up losing this game 3-1, as Brian Elliot would play two periods, Alex Lyon in net in the third.
On 9/21, the Flyers played their first game against the New York Rangers. I was in attendance at this one, and thought the Flyers played very well. They played mostly veterans in this game, a similar lineup against Boston two nights before, Travis Konecny played his first game since signing his contract. The Flyers dominated this game with 40 shots on goal and a lot of chances. Kevin Hayes and JVR would put the Flyers up 2-0 at the end of the first. Carsen Twarynski would get a goal in second on a bat out of the air, followed by Jake Voracek on the power play in the 3rd to make it 4-0. The special teams looked excellent with two PP goals and killing all penalties. Carter Hart played only two periods as JF Berube came in the third and gave up the only Rangers goal. The Rangers had more of a rookie lineup in the game, resulting in much time in the offensive zone with little shots. On 9/23, the Flyers played the Bruins again, this time in Boston. The Flyers played well in this game and deserved the win, but fell short 4-3 in OT. Travis Konecny got his first goal of the preseason on a nice pass from JVR behind the net. Carsen Twarynski would get another baseball like goal to tie it for the Flyers in the third. Connor Bunnaman would get a goal on the power play two minutes later on an intended pass to Myers in front, going off the Bruins defenseman and in. Chris Wagner would tie the game with about 2 minutes to go and sent the game to OT. Brad Marchand squeaked one by Elliot in overtime to give Boston the win. This was a veteran save that Elliot should have made. Even though the Flyers thought he blew the whistle before the puck crossed the goal line.
The Flyers would then play again on 9/26 in New York against the Rangers. Going into this game, Carter Hart had not given up a goal, but that streak would end late in the first as Lias Andersson would smack one out of the air to make it 1-0 New York. Travis Konecny would get the tying goal off his skate from a pass in front by Hayes. Both goalies would be perfect after those goals and this game ended up going to a shootout. Mika Zibanejad would get the game winning shootout goal on the third shot for New York. After this game, Carter Hart had stopped 56 of 57 shots, having a .982 SV% in the 3 games played.
The Flyers next game would be in Switzerland as they took on Lausanne HC. This was probably the worst game the Flyers had played in the preseason, being down 3-0 after the first period then giving up another goal in the second. Carter Hart did not look so sharp in this one, being pulled in the second. Brian Elliot came in and looked solid. Claude Grioux would break the ice for the Flyers as he made it 4-1, Travis Konecny took a very awkward fall into to end boards on the goal scaring all of us fans. The Flyers did not need any more injury news since Nolan Patrick was diagnosed with Migraine Disorder, now listed as week to week. Thankfully, Konecny came back and looked good. Connor Bunnaman would get a great diving goal to cut the lead to two in the third. Sean Couturier got his first goal of the preseason on the power play late to cut the lead to one, but it wasn’t enough as Lausanne held on for the 4-3 victory.
So, what did we learn in the preseason? Well, goaltending was not a problem for the Flyers, as Carter Hart played well in the few games he played. Brain Elliot looked solid as well, despite giving up a few goals he wishes he could have back. The Flyers this season need to have a better special teams, being one of the biggest reasons why the Flyers struggled last year. Hopefully the new coaching staff can bring that to the team this year, and they can produce more goals and better goaltending. The Flyers open up the season in Prague, Czech Republic against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct 4th at 2:00 PM EST, followed by the Home Opener Oct 9th against the New Jersey Devils at 7:30 PM.