Despite losing to the New York Islanders in overtime on Wednesday evening, the Philadelphia Flyers had a ton of positives to look at the end of the day. The most important being the no. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, Nolan Patrick.
The biggest concern heading into the preseason for the young forward was whether or not he really felt 100 percent healthy and if he was able to skate comfortably. He did just that.
“I thought I would be more nervous than I was,” Patrick said following the overtime loss. “First shift, I felt great. I thought we had a good start and kept it rolling throughout most of the game. We had a lot of good chances, I felt good for most of it.”
He wasn’t shy to talk about his team’s efforts either. The team had been together for just a few days in rookie camp at the Skate Zone.
“I think we played well until just the end there,” he continued. “I thought we came out on the first night, I felt really good, I thought I was making plays and had a couple of bounces, it’s good to have one. I think our lines as a whole played pretty well tonight, just not the right outcome.”
Patrick has a chance to give his team a victory in overtime, but rang a shot off the post. With chants of ‘No-lan Pat-rick’ being audible throughout the building, the young forward knew he had a chance to shine under the lights.
“It was a great play by [de Haas] there and then creating a hit in the corner and giving me the puck. I saw a low glove there and it was rolling on me a bit, so I just tried for it and hit the post there. I thought I had it, just missed my spot.”
“Obviously, I wanted to end it in overtime,” Patrick continued.” But, at the end of the day I’m not disappointed for not putting up numbers. The most disappointing thing would be getting a loss there.”
Patrick’s play in the offensive zone wasn’t the only bright spot for him on the evening. Late in regulation, Patrick chased down a defender on a strong back-check and stopped an Islanders chance to force overtime.
It was a huge part in a meaningless outcome because it showed Patrick’s defensive IQ and that’s something he takes pride in.
“Yeah, my legs felt really good tonight. I don’t know if that was a bit of adrenalin, but I have always pride myself on being a good defensive player and being intuitive. So, I thought I was pretty good out there.”
Patrick discussed his health and whether or not stamina would play an issue and if he could hold up physically during a game. He did acknowledge that his stamina is still building especially playing in his first game since March, but he knows that there’s a lot of work to be done.
“I felt great until that last play in overtime there,” he said. “I ran out of gas going in on the offense and trying to get a back check there. Other than that, I thought I played a good game for my first one since March. I thought our line made a lot of good plays.”
For an athlete that hasn’t played since March, Patrick looked like he belonged.
Despite his struggles in the face-off circle, Patrick knows that his timing will improve with more reps.
“It’s something that’s a timing thing. I haven’t taken a faceoff since March. I didn’t know what it was but, it wasn’t my best night in the face-off. Obviously, I’m the first person out there to notice that. It’s something I have to keep working on, I think I’m a pretty good face-off guy. Timing wasn’t great tonight.”
He finally was asked about the passionate fans at the Wells Fargo Center and the energy that was in the building. Patrick was impressed, to say the least.
“It was awesome for a rookie game, to have that many fans. It was incredible, they were loud the whole game and a great support for the first game. You can really see the fans are amazing here.”
That energy is something that many young players talk about the first time they step onto the ice in Philadelphia. Patrick and co. are going to continue to feed off of it during the remainder of the preseason. The no. 2 pick is looking to make an impact in Philadelphia and his first impression with the club should be remembered as a positive experience with tons of hope.
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