No slow starts in the Hakstol Era

There’s been a lot of mystery around the Flyers new coach Dave Hakstol. From the moment it was announced that the former University of North Dakota coach would be making the leap to NHL coach, people have wondered how well Hakstol would handle an NHL roster. We know that he’s coached future NHL stars like T.J.Oshie and Jonathan Toews, we know that he has had a lot of success with a defensive style of play, and we know that this season every player is starting off with a clean slate, free from their underwhelming past seasons.

Coming into the Draft day there was surprisingly little speculation about how Hakstol would run his camp. There was a lot of talk about the lineups like there is every year, but no one (that I saw) talked about how he would work the team. Judging by the reactions from fans watching Day 1 and from other beat writers, no one expected Hakstol’s training camp to be so intense.

Hak and Hex

The first day of training camp seems to have been a real trial. An exhausting series of drills with no breaks and no stoppages; Philly.com even went as far as to call Hakstol’s camp “Camp Agony”.

“It was tough overall _ the skating, the battling, the two-on-twos, three-on-threes,” Jake Voracek told reporters after Day 1 ended, “I think that’s the game situations that you have every game. It’s a positive note that we jumped into it this early. Now we just have to keep it going.”

If training camp is any true indication of how players will look during the season, we can expect some high-energy hard-hitting games.  Players were on the ice battling to prove their worth for a new coach. At one point Luke Schenn, placed on the 4th defensive pairing with Brandon Manning, basically body slammed Michael Raffl to the ice. One-on-ones, two-on-twos, three-on-threes, Hakstol had them in rough battles. The Flyers seem to have taken the intensity that was missing from the past few seasons and finally started using it. They’re fighting each other for roster spots, some have to play harder than others. Some were playing to earn a roster spot, and some, like Claude Giroux, were focused on other motivation, like being told the Flyers aren’t a playoff team.

“I ended up reading an article and seeing how we’re down in the standings,” he said. “It kind of pisses me off a little bit and put some motivation in us. We think we’re a playoff team. There’s only one way to do it and that’s to be in the playoffs.

The past few camps have been uneventful and even kind of bad which led to a pretty terrible start to the season. Last season coach Craig Berube had a problem with line times. He refused to use the bottom two lines and forced Giroux and Voracek to take on heavy minutes every game. Vincent Lecavalier was already slow when he was being played; he even complained about his decreasing ice-time. R.J. Umberger and Matt Read suffered silently through injuries which may have been slowing them down all season. And with a worn down top 6 the team was pretty slow overall. Vinny has been training hard, Read and Umberger got their surgeries out of the way and Umberger is even notably faster than he was last year. Hopefully, more intense training camp will get the team the conditioning boost they need to not look like the slow, bored, half-assed team we’ve seen the last few seasons.

Both of the Schenn brothers, who have been the subject of trade rumors for a while now were both put on lines with probable Phantoms. Luke Schenn was placed on the 4th defensive pairing with Brandon Manning, but he isn’t letting it bother him. “To be honest, I could care less, It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Perfect example is last year. Schultzie [Nick Schultz] was a scratch first game of year and turned into our most consistent defenseman.” He told reporters. Brayden Schenn was playing as a winger for Scott Laughton, with 31-year-old UND alumni Chris Porter on the opposite wing.

Hakstol said that there could be changes made to the lines that were on the ice in Day 1.

Offensive Lines:

Raffl-Giroux-Voracek

Read-Couturier-Simmonds

Umberger-Lecavalier-Simmonds

VandeVelde-Bellmare-White

Porter-Laughton-Schenn

Defensive Pairings:

Schultz-Streit

DelZotto-Medvedev

Gudas-MacDonald

Schenn-Manning

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