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5 Observations from Flyers’ 2-1 win over Bruins in preseason opener

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Felix Sandstrom, Philadelphia Flyers
Goalie Felix Sandstrom had an impressive performance for the Flyers, stopping all 17 shots he faced on Saturday night.

The Philadelphia Flyers opened their six-game preseason schedule Saturday night with a 2-1 over the Boston Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center.

Jackson Cates and his brother, Noah, scored for the Flyers. Jackson’s deft deflection of Egor Zamula’s point drive snapped a 1-1 tie with 4:40 left in regulation.

Here are five quick observations:

1. Felix Sandstrom was solid as he attempts to become Carter Hart’s caddy.

The Flyers were in the penalty box for most of the first period, so Sandstrom was extremely busy. He was also very good — particularly when he stopped Josiah Didier’s blast while Boston had a five-on-three. He was also fortunate, as a long power-play shot got under him but hit the right post on a five-on-four Boston power play.

Sandstom played 30:10 and stopped all 17 shots he faced, including 16 in the opening period. The Flyers had seven shots in the session.

Another notable Sandstrom save: He stopped A.J. Greer’s deflection in front with 4:44 left in the first while the B’s were on yet another power play.

Troy Grosenick, an AHL standout last season, replaced Sandstrom and played the final half of the game. He surrendered a goal to Jakub Lauko from the high slot, knotting the game at 1-1 with 7:10 to go in regulation.

Sandstrom and Grosenick are in an interesting duel for No. 2.

2. Noah Cates wants to make this team. Badly.

Cates is the frontrunner for the No. 3 left-wing spot. He was very good in a late-season, 16-game stint last season. I don’t think it was a fluke.

The Minnesota native was relentless Saturday, and he gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal with 18:18 left in the second. Cates deposited a slick feed from Morgan Frost, who had gathered a rebound of Tyson’s Foerster’s left-circle blast.

3. Nice debut by the Flyers’ penalty kill.

The Flyers were 4 for 4 on the penalty kill in the opening period and 6 for 6 overall.

So far, so good.

Morgan Frost, Kevin Connauton, Louie Belpedio, Artem Anisimov, Nick Seeler, Cam York, Egor Zamula, Jackson Cates, and Ronnie Attard got lots of PK time.

New assistant Brad Shaw is running the penalty kill this season; the Flyers were successful on 75.7% of their penalty kills last year, placing them 26th in the NHL.

4. Artem Anisimov was strong in his first game with the Flyers.

The 34-year-old center did a good job on the PK, was solid in the faceoff circle, and had some quality scoring chances.

Anisimov, trying to win a roster spot while on a PTO contract, played for John Tortorella with the Rangers.

5. Center Morgan Frost looked very comfortable.

Earlier in the day, Frost said his strong late-season made him feel good about himself heading into the summer. He said he had a “new-found confidence. … Now I fell like an NHL player.”

Frost, 23, said he will have more of a “shooter’s mentality,” but it was his sweet backhand feed set up Noah Cates’ goal and was one of the Flyers’ most memorable plays of the night. He also was terrific on the PK, and he made a key block in the waning seconds to close out the win.

On Saturday, Frost centered Olle Lycksell and Owen Tippett.

If the season started tomorrow, Frost would be the No. 3 center.

Breakaways

Still no update on center Sean Couturier’s injured back. … RW Hayden Hodgson, who has a shot to make the team as a fourth-liner or as an extra player, decisioned Greer in a second-period fight. Hodgson also had an assist on Jackson Cates’ goal. … Foerster drew a penalty that led to Noah Cates’ goal, and the right winger finished with five shots on goal. Ronnie Attard also had five shots … Tanner Laczynski, who centered Wade Allison and Antoine Roussel on a physical third line, led the Flyers with five hits. … Gritty celebrated his fourth birthday. I forgot to bring a gift. Sorry. … In their second exhibition game, the Flyers play in Buffalo on Tuesday (no TV).

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