Phlight Deck Flyers: Another defender moving to a wing?
Alain Vigneault has adjustments in mind for the Philadelphia Flyers. It does not fail to surprise in front of Lake Tahoe.
The Philadelphia Flyers last night arrived at Lake Tahoe. Two days before their match against the Boston Bruins, there were changes to be made. For starters, game time has now been moved to 7:30 p.m. Also, Alain Vigneault observed the alignment performance against New York Rangers. The Flyers fought well given their short preparation, but the end result was a prolonged shooting loss. Thursday was an audition for a few players.
Six players (Giroux, Voracek, Konecny, Lindblom, Laughton, Braun) remain inactive due to the COVID19 protocol. Giroux hasn’t missed back-to-back games since February 2016. Philadelphia has continued to be a generally healthy team, but the current state of hockey during a pandemic creates these unique challenges that are different from injuries.
Vigneault, a 2019-2020 Jack Adams Award Finalist, usually makes the correct settings. The Flyers have performed well in three of four games against the Bruins. With their typical lineup, you must feel that Philadelphia was on the verge of defeating Boston. Tomorrow, the challenge is greater. Outstanding Flyers lineup will have to find a way to deal with the Bruins.
D / RW Mark Friedman
In yesterday’s practice, Mark Friedman did repetitions on the right. It was a special sight to see because Vigneault had not yet decided on his staff. he relieved Maksim Souchko during practice, which led everyone to believe Friedman would be playing right at Lake Tahoe. This belief is not wrong. The answer is yes and no.
Friedman will play right tomorrow. He will also play in defense. Technically, Friedman is the second defenseman to convert to the wing in 2020-2021. Vigneault will employ eleven forwards and seven defenders tomorrow, but he gets a forward bonus from Friedman because he will duplicate. With a shortlist, Vigneault is the mad scientist who harnesses unexplored potential.
This decision might be smarter than anyone might guess. Friedman knows Boston. Deciding to move him to the wing while playing defense could help Philadelphia win more neutral zone battles. Building on defensive tendencies, the game plan emphasizes disrupting the Bruins’ offense. Vigneault believes that with the flexibility of positions, Friedman fits the game plan.
Sushko In, Kase Out
Here’s another surprising lineup change: Maksim Souchko stays, David Kasé goes. Returning to practice on Friday, Friedman replaced Sushko. No one could have suspected that Kase would be out of roster. Kase, whose second stint ended after a game, is more experienced at the NHL level.
Sushko made a good impression on Vigneault. He finished with a clear stat line against the Rangers, just like Kase. What makes the decision surprising is that Kase appeared to be the one making an impression on the bottom six. When the Flyers came out hot in the first period, Kase put pressure on the Rangers’ defense following a goal from Nicolas Aube-Kubel. Its all-throttle, no-brakes approach seemed to energize the attackers.
Of the three forwards who made their season debut on Friday, Kase played the most minutes (including power play time). Sushko has played the fewest minutes in the team.
The interest of travelers in Mattias Ekholm?
The last entry of the commercial rumor mill features a Nashville Predators defenseman. Mattias Ekholm is the target of recent rumors, sparking interest from Philadelphia. The Flyers have yet to find a suitable replacement to replace them Matt Niskanen. Chuck fletcher sign Erik Gustafsson ahead of the season, but the power play specialist has rotated on and off the bench.
Usually, trading to Ekholm would set Philadelphia up for the next four years in defense. With the NHL Expansion Draft hosting the Seattle Kraken, the Ekholm business acts as a loan. In considering an exchange for Ekholm, the Travelers need to decide if they’re ready to win now or if they’re more interested in maintaining a long-term list. Unless Fletcher deals with Ron Francis, the philosophy is “win now”.
Currently, Ekholm is week to week with a lower body injury. Making a trade for him would delay the prospect of “winning now”. While he’s a perfect fit, his injury status along with the expansion implications could prevent Fletcher from sending a trade offer.
Photo credit: Alex McIntyre