Flyers 4, Bruins 1 (preseason): Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds make 1st appearances

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BOX SCORE 

Ready or not, here comes the regular season.

The Flyers closed out their preseason schedule with a 4-1 victory over the Bruins, finishing with a 4-3-1 exhibition record.  

How did Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds look in their first preseason action, and can Flyers fans breathe a little easier with the team’s goaltending?

Here are my observations on the preseason finale at TD Garden:

• I wasn’t expecting Sean Couturier’s best effort, as he looked like he was plodding through the first 20-30 minutes, but he’s such a smart player that he still maintained positional play. You can tell he trusts his instincts and he got into the flow and got his legs going. Wayne Simmonds had some solid shifts at even strength, especially on the Leier goal, but there were spurts when he was hardly noticeable. Still, Simmonds has to feel good to get a goal in his first game back.

• Brian Elliott turned in a solid 60-minute effort that makes you feel a little bit better about the goaltending position heading into the regular season. Elliott was tracking the puck well and looked sharp. The only goal allowed came off the stick of David Pastrnak with a perfectly placed snap shot in which Elliott was screened. The Flyers goaltender also came up with a big save on Pastrnak on a third-period breakaway.   

• Couturier, Simmonds and Claude Giroux comprised the power play unit. My belief is that Dave Hakstol will go with that combination along with Shayne Gostisbehere and Jake Voracek to start the season. If Simmonds can have success on the power play, it will give him some early-season confidence while he works his way back into game shape. Simmonds had a play on the doorstep he normally converts.  

• When the preseason started, Jordan Weal and Scott Laughton were considered the frontrunners for the third-line center spot, but we have a clear-cut winner: Mikhail Vorobyev. The 21-year-old had a solid camp a year ago and seized the opportunity during this preseason, showcasing a complete all-around game. Vorobyev got the Flyers on the board with a first-period assist, a nicely threaded backhanded pass to Taylor Leier for a one-time goal in the left circle. Leier filled in for JVR, who was a healthy scratch.

• So, who’s the fourth-line center to start the season? Scott Laughton would be my choice, but I think Hakstol will go with Jori Lehtera with Laughton on the left side and Raffl on the right. Dale Weise and Taylor Leier will be your healthy scratches. I thought Lehtera had a solid opening period, strong on pucks and he knows where he needs to be on the ice. Plus, he created Raffl’s shorthanded goal with a strong forecheck. Lehtera solidified his spot with his effort on the PK.

• I liked Hakstol’s decision to sit Ivan Provorov and Gostisbehere to give the other inferior defensemen an opportunity to play some significant minutes against the Bruins' top skilled forwards. To their credit, the Flyers held the Bruins without a shot for the first 10 minutes, but from that point, the Flyers were dominated and the defense was exposed through turnovers while losing a majority of board battles. There was very little blue line help in the offensive zone and the Bruins outshot Philly 20-4 during a 30-minute stretch. Collectively, they settled down in the third period. 

• Defenseman Philippe Myers was called up earlier Saturday morning and was inserted into the lineup, playing alongside Mark Friedman to start the game. Another area that Myers needs improvement is winning board battles, especially against smaller bodies with quicker hands.  

LINES & PAIRINGS

Forwards
Giroux - Couturier - Konecny
Weal - Patrick - Lindblom
Leier- Vorobyev - Simmonds
Laughton - Lehtera - Raffl

Defensemen
Sanheim-Folin
Hägg - Gudas
Friedman - Myers

Goaltending
Elliott
Hart

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