VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers definitely earned their off day Monday.
Broken into four groups at training camp, the team held two more scrimmages Sunday and four practice sessions the morning after its preseason opener.
Just like Friday, the scrimmages were followed by drills and laps of conditioning.
“Why can’t we be the best conditioned team in the league?” Flyers head coach John Tortorella said Sunday. “It’s something we can control. It’s not skill, it’s not talent. That’s what we strive to do.”
Let’s get into three observations from Day 4 of camp at Flyers Training Center.
It was not a great sign when Carter Hart didn’t come out for his group’s scrimmage because of a lower-body injury. However, it is extremely early in camp and the Flyers are likely taking every precaution with their 24-year-old goalie. He’s considered day to day.
With Monday’s off day, we’ll see if Hart is able to get back into a practice session Tuesday. The Flyers have preseason games Tuesday (at Sabres) and Wednesday (vs. Capitals), while the non-game groups are scheduled to practice during the morning.
Artem Anisimov (lower body) and Cam Atkinson (upper body) also missed their respective group’s scrimmage.
Anisimov blocked a shot during the first period of the Flyers’ 2-1 exhibition win Saturday night but was able to finish the game.
Despite not scrimmaging, Atkinson took part in the practice session and looked fine.
‘Truly respect what he did’
With Tortorella watching the preseason opener from the Flyers’ management suite, Wade Allison dropped the gloves during the first period in defense of his teammate. Antoine Roussel took a hard but clean hit from Connor Carrick. Roussel, a 32-year-old veteran competing on a professional tryout, had his head down in open ice and Carrick took advantage.
Allison is fighting for a roster spot and showed the Flyers’ new head coach the type of teammate he is by standing up for Roussel. However, it was costly because Allison was given a misconduct, forcing him to sit for a good chunk of the game when he’s trying to win a job.
But AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley head coach Ian Laperriere felt Tortorella would have respected Allison’s decision.
He was right.
Tortorella gave an insightful breakdown of his thoughts on the play.
“That was a good hit, it was a good, solid hit, you’re coming through the middle, you don’t see it happen that often,” Tortorella said. “I kind of like seeing it, although it was against our guy. That’s part of the game. I think during the regular season, that happens, it’s a big hit or a loud noise, the guy almost has to fight a guy or a guy challenges him. I don’t want our team to play that way, I want us to take hits. But [Allison is] trying to make the team, this is exhibition. I respect what he did, truly respect what he did.
“The thing that gets screwed up, and I think the National Hockey League has to get it straightened out, is the refs can’t give a guy 10 minutes in an exhibition game. We’ve got 15 managers of Boston and us trying to evaluate players, that poor soul sits out 17 minutes, a big man, he never gets himself back into the game. It sucked for him. Doing the right thing trying to make a team and then the refs boot him for that long. He never can get his legs back in a three-period game.
“I don’t mean to be going off on a tangent here, but we’re trying to evaluate. But high marks for what he did. I just wish he wasn’t sitting out as long as he did for that.”
Example of effort
The Flyers’ three defensive pairs on opening night could feature only one player over the age of 27.
That would be Justin Braun, a 35-year-old who returned to the Flyers in free agency and has 119 games of playoff experience. He’s arguably the Flyers’ truest defender. His game is all about understanding gaps and taking away the body to kill plays.