Sam Morin

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PHT Morning Skate: What’s a bit different about Ovechkin

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–The Capitals talked with Alex Ovechkin over the summer about how he could tweak his game. Those talks included having Ovechkin trim his weight, which led to him showing up to camp four pounds lighter, and put a greater emphasis on getting in front of the net for tip-ins and rebounds at even strength. Already he has six even-strength goals this season, compared to his 16 in 2015-16, which matched his career-low. (Washington Post)

–The Dallas Stars have lost their first two games, but they’ve been dominated from a shots perspective. Stars coach Ken Hitchcock is encouraging the team to stay patient. (Dallas Morning News)

–Speaking of shots, the Florida Panthers’ 84 in their first two games is a franchise record. (Steve Goldstein)

Travis Hamonic has begun Hamonic’s D-Partner Program presented by MEG Energy in Calgary. Each home game he’ll host a child or children who suffered the loss of a parent at a young age. Hamonic’s own father passed away when he was 10-years-old and part of what he does with this program is have a sit-down where he encourages them to talk about their loss and shares his own story. He’ll also often give the kids his e-mail address so that he can stay in touch and offer guidance if they need it. It’s a program he previously ran with the Islanders and got permission to begin with the Flames after he was traded over the summer. (Calgary Sun)

Sam Morin, 22, has been a healthy scratch in the Philadelphia Flyers’ first three games. If he doesn’t crack the lineup soon then the Flyers might send the promising defenseman down to the minors. (NBC Sports Philadelphia)

–Blake Coleman’s drink of choice during games is pickle juice. Apparently its the only thing that he’s found that will help him prevent cramps, but it’s not something his Devils teammates have taken to. (NJ.com)

Ron Hextall wants you to know this isn’t a rebuilding season for the Flyers

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Coming off of their third non-playoff season in the past five years the Philadelphia Flyers are expected to have some young, inexperienced players take on some big roles this season.

You can call this upcoming season a lot of things for the Flyers, but one thing general manager Ron Hextall doesn’t want you to call it as a rebuild. Or a rebuilding season. Or anything have to do with the word “rebuild.”

He made that very clear when speaking to Sam Carchidi this past week.

An excerpt from Philly.com:

“You’re not rebuilding when you’re competitive,” Hextall said in a firm tone. “A rebuild, to me, is when you go to the bottom and you pick high, high, high – and essentially, you’re not trying that hard to win. That’s not in our DNA. We want to win. We want to win as many games as possible. We’re not going to go to the bottom of the league and pick first overall for four or five years. That’s no way to build culture. Our vision was to stay competitive, and build, and get younger — and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

He also later added, “How would you like to be a player going into an 82-game season knowing the team is rebuilding so basically has no expectations to win. Think about that. That’s not in our DNA.”

So don’t call it a rebuild, okay?

The 2016-17 season was kind of a bizarre one for the Flyers. They entered the year with some fairly high expectations after making the playoffs in 2015-16, but stumbled out of the gate by only winning nine of their first 22 games. Then in mid-November they started what would go on to be a 10-game winning streak that seemed to bring them back into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. But as soon as that winning streak ended the bottom completely fell out on the season and they went just 19-22-6 the rest of the way.

They ended up finishing 19th in the overall league standings but made a massive move in the NHL draft lottery, jumping all the way up to the No. 2 overall spot where they could take Nolan Patrick.

Along with Patrick, the Flyers are going to lean on a lot of younger players this season, especially on defense with Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, Sam Morin and Robert Hagg all expected to play major roles at some point during the year.

But they still have a core of veteran players in place led by Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and recent additions Valterri Filppula (acquired before the trade deadline this past season) and Jori Lehtera (acquired over the summer for Brayden Schenn). They also attempted to fix their goaltending position by bringing in Brian Elliott to pair with Michal Neuvirth.

Given the overall veteran makeup of the roster it’s probably fair to not call it a rebuild, which kind of puts the Flyers in an odd spot. They have a lot of young players, but they haven’t totally torn the team down to the ground. But is this a roster that is going to compete in the Eastern Conference with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and even the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs? They’re probably in that blurry middle ground teams can sometimes get trapped in where they’re not rebuilding and they’re not really contenders.

Sometimes that can take longer for a team to get out of than a full scale rebuild.

Flyers lose Laughton and Manning to injury, which could be an opportunity for Konecny and Provorov

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First, the news — per CSN Philly, the Flyers have lost forward Scott Laughton for the next 3-4 weeks with a lower-body injury, and d-man Brandon Manning (week-to-week) with an upper-body injury.

Now, for the ramifications.

These injuries are positives for Philly’s two first-round picks at the 2015 draft: Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov, regarded as two of the organization’s best young prospects.

Konecny, aiming to make the team after getting sent back to junior last year, could fill Laughton’s spot at forward while Provorov — who many expected to make the team anyway — gets closer to “lock” status with the Manning injury.

More: Impressive Konecny pushing for roster spot in Philly

Philly got its roster down to 28 players on Wednesday by demoting Colin McDonald, Taylor Leier and Sam Morin to AHL Lehigh Valley.

The club will play two more exhibition games — tonight at MSG against the Rangers, Saturday in Boston — before opening the regular season in Los Angeles on Friday, Oct. 14.