The Philadelphia Flyers had their prospects finally see some game action on Sept. 15 in their 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers. In the first real action of the entire summer, there were destined to be a few hiccups along the way. While the Flyers were unable to come up with the victory, there were several positive things that could be taken away from their game.
Samu Tuomaala Was Fantastic
Samu Tuomaala, a 20-year-old winger out of the Mestis league in Finland, showed his elite speed and offensive abilities in the game. He was limited a bit in terms of his overall ice time, but when he was on, he made it count. For a player who has only played in North America for two games with the Flyers’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms, this was the first time that some people have seen him play.
The game as a whole seemed a bit slower in pace, but Tuomaala was an exception to that. He was speedy through the neutral zone and created several scoring chances on his own. Just before the last minute of the first period, he threw a puck on net on the power play that led to the Flyers maintaining possession. A little while later, he fired a shot on goal that eventually set up a relatively routine tally. He was generating scoring opportunities in several different ways for Philadelphia and setting himself apart from his competition.
This season, it is expected that he will see some time with the Phantoms in the AHL. As he showed against some pretty tough competition, he is definitely ready for another challenge. The young winger has impressed early and should continue to do so even in a more difficult league.
Flyers’ Camp Invitees Shined
Entering the match, the Flyers had a total of five camp invites that appeared in the game. Despite this, several of them took over the game and really impressed with their play. For starters, 24-year-old winger Matt Brown played arguably the best out of any Flyer on the night. After scoring the first goal of the game, he resumed his impressive play and generated a few scoring opportunities along with it. By the latter half of the game, he was promoted to the first line with Elliot Desnoyers and Tyson Foerster after starting out on the third. He is definitely a bit older but still showed enough promise that he could potentially be a candidate for a stint with the Phantoms if the Flyers choose to go that route.
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In addition, the starting goaltender for the game was also an invitee. Nolan Maier stopped 22 of 25 shots that he faced in the game, which doesn’t necessarily paint the whole picture. He had to make several key stops with the Flyers’ defense looking a bit sloppy at times. This should be an expectation with such a young group, but he still did his job in the crease. He saw some time with Philadelphia’s East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) affiliate Reading Royals and with the Phantoms in the AHL, where he posted a cumulative 17-10-5 record with just below a .900 save percentage (SV%) and a goals-against average right below a 2.90 in both leagues. With some familiarity with the organization, he could be a piece for a little while.
Finally, Jacob Gaucher played well overall for Philadelphia, as well. Playing on the fourth line, he didn’t necessarily have the best chance to prove himself, but he was still noticeable on the ice. Late in the second period, he had a hard-fought battle for a puck behind the Rangers’ net that he was able to center for a goal. He is a good ways away from playing in the pros, but this is a skill that every scout on the planet looks out for and adores. His compete level was admirable, and he earned himself a chance to prove he could do more.
Before the Flyers enter their second game of the camp, they will have some key lineup decisions to make. Many of the invitees flourished, and they might have to give them a second chance. With forward JR Avon likely to not appear in the games due to some unfortunate injury timing, there will be a shot for them to have a second chance. A couple of games won’t really be do or die, but they will prove their worth.
Foerster Is Above the Competition
As was very clear before the game even occurred, Foerster was going to be a player to look out for and someone who would likely shine above the rest. Throughout nearly all of the game, it seemed as though when he was on the ice, he was in complete control.
For one of the few players in the game who has a very good chance to be on an NHL roster for the first game of the season, Foerster was destined to play well. However, he was fed the puck frequently on the power play and registered several high-danger opportunities. He battled well and showcased his powerful shot. He didn’t end up scoring a goal, but he was still arguably the Flyers’ best player of the game.
Philadelphia will resume action against the Rangers for day two of their head-to-head matchup at 5:00 p.m. ET on Sept. 16. Expect Carson Bjarnason to get the start in goal for the entire night and a couple of substitutions, particularly on the back end.