Training Camp Report: 1/13 – Record breaking crowd takes in opening day of camp

On the first first official day of the 2013 NHL season, the Flyers opened training camp in Voorhees, New Jersey. Flyers fans did nothing to dispel the notion that hockey fans, rabid as they are, will always show up when there is hockey to be played regardless of any labor disputes.

There was a standing-room only crowd at the Voorhees Skate Zone, and it was reported that over 4,000 fans were in attendance, the largest crowd ever. In fact, the Fire Marshal had to stop allowing people into the rink to watch, as it was at capacity. Practice began with an announcement that many of the illegally parked cars could potentially be towed.

“It was like we were walking into a home game.  It was really great to see that, to be honest,” Coach Peter Laviolette said. “You kind of expected that from Flyers fans… you knew that they’d be out and they’d be happy to see the guys back on the ice.  It was really good to see them.”

Flyers fans occupy every inch of space in order to take in the first day of training camp.

Don’t think too much of line combinations this early in training camp as it is sure to change from session to session and day to day. With the players not wearing numbers on their sweaters it was a bit difficult at times to pick out who was who, especially at the other end of the rink. With that said, line combinations began as follows:

Schenn – Giroux – Hartnell
Simmonds – Laughton – Read
Talbot – Couturier – Voracek
Rinaldo – Fedotenko – McGinn (I’m actually not certain who was playing center of this trio.)
Shelley – Wellwood – Sestito

Timonen – Schenn
Coburn – Meszaros (Foster was also working with Meszaros, and Grossmann with Coburn)
Lilja – Gervais

Your goaltenders were Ilya Bryzgalov and Michael Leighton. The newly acquired Brian Boucher was not in attendance.

Flyers 2012 1st round draft pick Scott Laughton is attempting to make the team as an 18 year old.

“I thought Scott did a nice job out there.  I’ve only seen him play once before in a game competitively.  We went up and watched him play a junior game this year.  System-wise, he seemed to understand.  He’s a smart kid, a smart two-way player.  He came out here and he certainly didn’t look out of place.” Laviolette offered.

“I had the opportunity to see Scott a couple times this year. He’s an impressive young player that plays the game properly in his own end and skates real well.  He brings an element of toughness to his game.  He’s really good on faceoffs.  I think this week is good for him, and we’ll see where it goes,” said General Manager Paul Holmgren who won’t discount Laughton making the club after Sean Couturier managed to do so last season. ”What did I say about Couturier last year?  Highly unlikely?  I don’t know.  I think it was important for us to bring him in and just be a part of this process because we missed it in the fall.  Obviously he’s a young player in our organization that we think highly of, and we wanted to have him take part in this. ”

In the second session, lines and pairings did change. Nicklas Grossmann was predominantly with Braydon Coburn, and Jake Voracek saw time with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell; something many people expected to be the case in 2012-2013.

The early special teams units worked as follows:

Power Play
Simmonds – Giroux – Hartnell
Timonen – Voracek

Read – Couturier – Schenn
Meszaros – Foster

Penalty Kill
Fedotenko – Talbot
Coburn – Grossmann (Gervais also worked in place of Grossmann)

Wellwood and Laughton also saw time together as a PK forward unit.

Laviolette was impressed with how sharp the special teams were, and attributed it partially to having very little roster turnover from last season.

“I think it really showed in the power play practice. Claude’s unit jumped back in there, same unit that had been together more than half of the year with success last year. They came out the first day, not seeing each other, not skating together, and it was like they didn’t miss a beat out there. The power play the second half, and the specialty teams practice, I thought was real good. I think it’ll continue to improve.”

Again, I wouldn’t put much stock in lines and pairings at this point in time. Perhaps later in the week, as we approach Saturday’s opener, it might tip Peter Laviolette’s hand a bit, but not now. We also have to remember that this does not include the injured Danny Briere, who will surely have a spot on the Power Play. Additionally, Andrej Meszaros’ health should dictate a lot of what is done with the defensive pairings.

With such a long layoff and only a week of training camp before the season begins on Saturday the 19th, conditioning is a legitimate concern.

“In terms of our practice today, I thought that the pace was good. It seemed like we were a little jittery with that many fans in the building and guys walking out for the first time… we’ve been away for a while. I thought we settled into it and I thought the pace was good.  The passing can be better. I thought it got better, and I still think there’s room for improvement there.  I think conditioning will come into play also.” said Laviolette.

I did my best to take some video before I had some phone issues.