Inspired by Lake Placid, Flyers get to work

Posted: September 21, 2013

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. - This picturesque village, flanked by the Adirondack Mountains and Mirror Lake, is a postcard for a bygone, simpler time.

The pace is slow, the traffic is light.

It is the opposite of the Flyers' training camp.

Camp shifted from the Wells Fargo Center to Lake Placid on Thursday afternoon with 21/2 hours of spirited drills held on two rinks, including the hallowed Herb Brooks Arena.

The Brooks Arena, of course, is where the Americans, composed of amateurs, stunned a Soviet Union professional team en route to winning the 1980 Olympic gold medal and making "Miracle on Ice" a part of our lexicon.

"This place holds a pretty special place in Americans' hearts," said center Adam Hall, one of three Americans (Hal Gill and Chris VandeVelde are the others) on the Flyers' roster. ". . . I was born in 1980, but I'm certainly aware of the magic that happened in this building. You feel a connection with the past when you walk in here."

Twenty-seven Flyers were on the ice, preparing for the Oct. 2 opener against visiting Toronto. There are 15 forwards, 10 defensemen, and two goalies.

The Flyers can start the season with as many as 23 players, meaning at least four will be trimmed.

The Flyers will keep 13 or 14 forwards and seven or eight defensemen. Scott Laughton, Michael Raffl, and VandeVelde appear to be battling for a spot among the forwards.

One of the highlights Thursday was the continued progress of captain Claude Giroux, who had finger surgery last month and said he was pain-free. He centered the top line with Scott Hartnell and Jake Voracek.

"There doesn't seem to be anything holding him back at this point," coach Peter Laviolette said.

Said Giroux: "I didn't win a lot of battles, but I did what I could do."

Giroux's passing looked crisp, and he is expected to play in his first exhibition game next week. Tuesday against New Jersey is a possibility.

"If my hand lets me be 100 percent, I'd love to play," he said. "We'll see."

As for VandeVelde, who was scoreless in 11 games with Edmonton last season, he is perhaps the biggest surprise of camp.

"I've worked hard in the offseason and given myself a fair shot," said VandeVelde, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder who has played well in two preseason games.

VandeVelde, 26, who signed with the AHL's Adirondack Phantoms last week, is trying to make the Flyers as a third- or fourth-line winger who can be used on the penalty kill. Assistant general manager Ron Hextall contacted him before the signing.

"I played with his son at UND [the University of North Dakota], so that kind of helped," VandeVelde said. "I had a little connection there."

The defense is crowded. If a trade is not made, the top seven appear to be Kimmo Timonen, Luke Schenn, Braydon Coburn, Nick Grossmann, Mark Streit, Erik Gustafsson, and Andrej Meszaros. That leaves Gill, Bruno Gervais, and Oliver Lauridsen in the running for the other spot - if the team decides to carry eight defensemen.

Breakaways

The Flyers put the following players on waivers Thursday: forwards Ben Holmstrom and Kris Newbury, defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon, and goalie Yann Danis. If they clear waivers, they figure to join the Phantoms. . . . Trivia: The only goalie not to lose to the Americans at Lake Placid in 1980? Sweden's Pelle Lindbergh. . . . Silly fact: Kate Smith, the Flyers' onetime good luck charm, used to live in Lake Placid in the summer.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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