Myers looks to use last year’s ex­pe­ri­ence to his ad­van­tage

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Wayne Fish

VOORHEES, N.J. — Tech­ni­cally, de­fense­man Philippe Myers is still a rookie.

But try telling op­pos­ing for­wards lurk­ing around the Fly­ers’ net this up­com­ing season that he that has “fresh­man’’ sta­tus.

The 6-foot-5, 218-pound Myers played in 21 NHL games last season, four short of what would have ended his rookie stand­ing.

There­fore, at 22, he’s back for one more spin with Fly­ers rookie camp. Yet make no mis­take, Myers fig­ures big in the team’s plans and he’s al­ready talk­ing a bit like a vet­eran.

“I got a look at it last year and ob­vi­ously it made me want to work that much harder this sum­mer,’’ Myers said af­ter a prac­tice at the Skate Zone. “I want to be up here this year and help the team win. I want to earn it so I’m ex­cited to get things go­ing.”

Besides his mo­bil­ity for a big man, Myers has other things to of­fer. He’s a right-handed shot, a pow­er­ful one at that, which can be help­ful on power plays.

And he has com­po­sure, which isn’t al­ways true of young de­fend­ers. He dis­played that in his 21-game trial last season.

“I think what I learned is to try and stay calm un­der pres­sure,” he said. “Try not to panic. I think I got a lit­tle more com­fort­able as the games went on. I’m happy I got those steps out of the way.”

That said, it’s not a given that Myers will land a reg­u­lar top-six po­si­tion com­ing out of train­ing camp, which opens Fri­day.

Fig­ure veter­ans Matt Niska­nen and Justin Braun, both ac­quired in the off­sea­son, for spots in the top four. Then you have two re­turn­ing young stars, Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostis­be­here, who will get big min­utes.

That leaves Travis San­heim and Robert Hagg. San­heim had a bril­liant sec­ond half and nearly over­took “Ghost” for the de­fense scor­ing lead. Hagg is among the team’s lead­ers in hits and blocked shots.

So un­less there’s an in­jury, Myers will have to dis­place one of those play­ers to see steady ice time.

He’s set­ting his sights high. “I got my feet wet last year and I know what to ex­pect this year,” said Myers, a na­tive of Monc­ton, New Brunswick, Canada. “I want to be a top-four guy and have a big­ger role on the team. That’s ba­si­cally what they [the coaches] told me my goal should be.”

A con­fi­dent Myers can be an ef­fec­tive one. Like Provorov and Gostis­be­here, he’s at his best when he’s in­volved in the of­fense as well as the de­fense.

“I just want to get the pucks to the for­wards, jump in the rush, stuff like that,” Myers said. “I didn’t want to make too many mis­takes out there [last year]. I have to build up my con­fi­dence be­fore I start try­ing things of­fen­sively. It’s al­ways good to keep your game sim­ple.”

For more from Wayne Fish, see fly­ing­fish­

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