Coming into the season, exterior expectations weren’t excessive for the Philadelphia Flyers. Final yr, the crew completed twenty ninth total within the NHL and proper on the backside of the Metropolitan Division. Coach Mike Yeo was let go, himself having changed Alain Vigneault mid-season. Over the summer time, GM Chuck Fletcher introduced in loads of new recruits and made an announcement behind the bench by hiring Stanley Cup winner John Tortorella.
So when the Flyers received 5 of their first seven video games this season, one could not assist however increase an eyebrow. Tortorella has lengthy been referred to as a coach who can set up a tradition and when his groups are dialled in, they usually overachieve.
However with three straight losses, the Flyers are coming all the way down to Earth. The newest setback was a 5-2 loss to a previously-struggling Toronto crew that peppered Philly goalie Felix Sandstrom with 45 photographs on the evening. Primarily based on the coach’s post-game feedback, a few of the Flyers want to show their video games round earlier than they discover themselves in a special jersey.
“For probably the most half, I believed our guys had loads of attempt,” Tortorella mentioned. “Some guys, no. That is the place a few of my frustration is. Not a lot within the outcome, however the effort that’s put in typically.
“I used to be actually pleased with how some guys dealt with sure conditions and their effort. On the opposite facet, there have been conditions that completely disgusted me. These are issues now we have to work by way of. Whenever you’re constructing a crew, you are not solely trying to construct and develop your gamers, you are additionally searching for gamers you merely do not suppose are going to be part of it. And that separates itself as you undergo this course of.”
Curiously sufficient, the coach mentioned he needs gamers to not be afraid of constructing errors if they’re attempting to make a play – so it is not a matter of the Flyers being extra conservative. As left winger Joel Farabee identified, his crew was too passive within the defensive zone towards Toronto and that damage them, particularly given the high-end talent the Maple Leafs have. When the Flyers had been successful earlier on, they had been extra cohesive.
“For us, it is these little three-to-five-foot performs, little help performs popping out of the D-zone as a five-man unit,” Farabee mentioned. “That transitions into the offensive zone and once you’re there, keep tight, keep linked.”
They may definitely want extra of that as a result of whether or not they have been successful or shedding, the Flyers haven’t had the puck a lot this season. Philadelphia is at present dead-last in possession hockey proper now with a Corsi share of 38.2.
“We have gotta play with the puck,” mentioned middle Scott Laughton. “We have gotta make performs all through our D-zone and impartial zone. Guys are battling arduous within the D-zone, however we’re spending an excessive amount of time there. We have gotten nice goaltending, we simply have to spend extra time within the O-zone and create – not be one-and-done and make it straightforward on groups.”
Goaltending has been one vibrant spot, even when backup Felix Sandstrom continues to be winless in his temporary NHL profession. Starter Carter Hart has been on hearth with a .943 save share and after a number of arduous years, that turnaround was a should for the Flyers. However, Hart’s early heroics might need masked loads of the crew’s underlying issues.
“It hasn’t come collectively, it is nonetheless a methods away,” Tortorella mentioned. “That is a part of our job as a training employees, to carry it collectively. It may take a while. We discovered a method to win some video games with some actually good goaltending, however we nonetheless have a ton of labor to do to be thought-about a crew that has come collectively.”
As a minimum, we all know Philly will not be a rustic membership. Prospects reminiscent of Cam York and Ronnie Attard have spent the primary month of the season within the AHL with Lehigh Valley after getting in 30 and 15 NHL video games respectively final yr. It is also value noting that the Flyers are as soon as once more with out middle Sean Couturier, probably the greatest two-way gamers within the sport when he is wholesome.
And eventually, there may be buy-in. Tortorella would not identify the gamers he was both comfortable or disgusted with, however his messages are getting by way of to at the least a few of the guys.
“Torts has been nice with us,” Laughton mentioned. “He pushes us arduous and doubtless the largest distinction from final yr is our compete degree and the way in which we battle – like guys blocking photographs with a minute left in a 5-2 sport and placing their our bodies on the road. We work arduous for one another, we choose one another up and that is what you gotta ask for. If we proceed to do this, clear up some stuff and play with the puck, it will go the opposite manner.”