After chippy loss, Flyers have decisions and more work before the real thing


In the final dress rehearsal of their six-game exhibition slate, the Flyers fell to the Capitals, 5-3, Friday night at Capital One Arena.

Alain Vigneault's club relinquished a 3-2 third-period lead in the loss and went 2-3-1 in the preseason.

Most importantly for the Flyers, they appeared to leave the game healthy. The game got chippy, particularly in the third period. Sean Couturier took a good hit, Nicolas Aube-Kubel dropped the gloves with Nick Jensen and Joel Farabee drew a roughing penalty on Tom Wilson. The Capitals' winger took umbrage with a Farabee hit and crosscheck on one of his teammates.

Well before the night turned up a notch, Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury after delivering a hit to Travis Konecny's back.

With no more exhibition matchups, the Flyers have six days between now and their regular-season opener. Last year, their entire training camp consisted of six on-ice days. After a patience-testing and playoff-less season, general manager Chuck Fletcher brought in seven pieces to his big club roster this summer. With all of the new faces, the Flyers will surely value the practice time before the real thing next Friday night.

"I just love the attitude of the group right now," Fletcher said Thursday. "Guys are excited, they enjoy being around the rink, you hear laughter down there.

"The coaching staff and the players, the communication has been great. It feels like two years ago and guys are buying in. Everyone's communicating and on the same page so far. I think we've done what we could do to this point in time, but there's a lot of work left to go."

• The Flyers have some final roster decisions to make. Excluding injuries, the club is currently at 24 players and must submit its final roster to the league's central registry by Monday at 5 p.m. ET. The Flyers can be at a maximum of 23.

In his pregame media availability with reporters at Capital One Arena, Vigneault said he believes the Flyers will open the regular season with a lean 20-man roster because of their tight salary cap situation. By starting the season with multiple home games, they have some flexibility if they're in need of a call-up from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley an hour-plus drive away.

The Flyers' 12th forward spot in the lineup will come down between Jackson Cates and Garrett Wilson. The club's six defensemen are set and if it decides to carry a seventh, Nick Seeler is expected to be the extra.

• When the Flyers acquired Cam Atkinson in a trade for Jakub Voracek, the scouting report on the longtime Blue Jacket was he played with great instincts and speed.

And that he could shoot.

Atkinson exhibited all of those traits in the second period when he flipped the Flyers' 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead.

The 32-year-old winger made two excellent reads defensively and turned them into goals.

The Flyers simply did not have those types of plays last season. The Flyers hope Atkinson provides plenty more of them in the regular season.

Atkinson has played with the 34-year-old Derick Brassard all camp and preseason. They were teammates for parts of two seasons in Columbus. The two recently got a new linemate in Farabee, who is a bit younger than both of them at 21 years old.

"With Cam, his highlight-reel is pretty endless," Farabee said Thursday. "He had been a really good player in Columbus for a long time. I can remember watching Brass when he was in New York. Definitely two guys that know what's going on."

Atkinson led the Flyers with three goals in the preseason. Farabee and Claude Giroux had two piece, with the Flyers' captain netting one of them Friday night to put the Flyers on the board in the middle frame.

• Martin Jones started in net for Carter Hart, who did not suit up after missing Thursday's practice for a maintenance day. After practice, Vigneault expressed no concern whatsoever about Hart's status for the regular-season opener.

The 23-year-old played five exhibition periods this preseason and stopped 41 of 43 shots.

Jones, who signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Flyers in the offseason, surrendered four goals on 32 shots Friday night.

He faced a lot of them throughout the preseason.

In four exhibition games, the 31-year-old allowed 11 goals on 95 shots faced. Two of his preseason appearances were stiff tune-ups against the Bruins' regulars at TD Garden and the Islanders' regulars at Webster Bank Arena. In both games, the Flyers had a preseason mix and were at a clear NHL talent disadvantage.

• Trying to make a final impression, Wilson turned up the physicality as the second period saw the game get testier. The 30-year-old winger dropped the gloves with T.J. Oshie and finished the game with seven penalty minutes.

• The Flyers are back on the ice Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET in Voorhees, New Jersey, as they gear up for their regular-season opener next Friday against the Canucks (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). The club begins the 2021-22 regular season with a four-game homestand.

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