Yeo, Flyers Hockey Slaps


In sports, it is common that below-average players excel in coaching. Philadelphia has a great example of this with Doug Pederson. When the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Superbowl, Pederson’s achievement was on a higher level than his playing career. That is sort of the same with a member of the Philadelphia Flyers coaching staff. No, he’s not the head coach.

Mike Yeo has brought two NHL franchises to the playoffs. He did it from 2013-2015 with the Minnesota Wild and again in 2017 with the St. Louis Blues. Ironically, he was fired from the Blues organization in 2018 and replaced by a former Philadelphia Flyers coach, Craig Berube. Berube won the Stanley Cup with St. Louis in 2018-2019, but Yeo found his way back on a coaching staff. Everything came full circle when Yeo was named the assistant coach under Alain Vigneault with the Flyers.

His partnership with the players, Chuck Fletcher, and Alain Vigneault helped direct the Philadelphia Flyers to the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. We’re just about a week away from the return of hockey. Mike Yeo has complimented Vigneault’s coaching style this season. We had the opportunity to check in with Yeo recently as we close in on the playoffs.

Both Sides of the Puck

“In my opinion and talking to the other coaches, we feel that the players are ahead of where they were and would be in a typical training camp, which is a good sign.”

Mike Yeo; 7/17/20

A pause created by a pandemic is unique to the world of sports. That creates a challenge for coaches, specifically about the expectations of player condition as training camp starts. Just under a week from now, the teams will be arriving at the Toronto bubble. When coaches feel players are ahead of where they would be in a “typical training camp,” it raises expectations of how far the team can advance in the playoffs.

“We’re purposely going to add more five-on-five drills, more five-on-five scrimmages as we are moving along here to help prepare the group. They’ll also develop that chemistry and cohesiveness within the pairings and linemates as well.”

Mike Yeo; 7/17/20

Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen received fantastic reviews from Mike Yeo regarding their conditioning through the quarantine. Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers have taken the step forward at the end of the first week of training camp. Robert Hagg and Justin Braun have also looked sharp, with Braun getting some love from Scott Laughton while he was wired up. Following those six are Shayne Gostisbehere and Mark Friedman. The defensive depth is stingy, which is exactly how Yeo likes it.

Mike Yeo on Players

Joel Farabee has been an exciting option for the Philadelphia Flyers forward depth. When Alain Vigneault sets up the lineups, he has so many lethal line combinations at his fingertips. Everyone is being thoroughly observed by Mike Yeo and Vigneault over this training camp, which means the opportunity is in the air. Yeo likes Farabee’s odds as a top-six winger in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“He’s obviously a very strong candidate to be there and that’s why he started there on day one.”Mike Yeo; 7/17/20

Nate Thompson’s playoff experience gives him an identity. His role, along with Derek Grant, was to fill a void that was created when Nolan Patrick struggled with migraines. Thompson has been a great candidate for the bottom six depth in the Stanley Cup playoffs. If physicality and defense win championships, Thompson is a player that may be called on in specific matchups.

“I’ve always been a big believer that physicality plays a bigger role in the playoffs when you are going head to head in a best of seven series. He brings those things.”

Mike Yeo; 7/17/20

On the other side of the puck, a young defenseman enters the playoffs with the Philadelphia Flyers. The difference here is that if he impresses in training camp, this will be his first moment of playing time in the 2019-2020 campaign. I’m speaking of Egor Zamula, who offers great potential. Though he is a long shot to receive playing time, it presents an opportunity versus none at all.

“If you like really big defensemen who are smart, can skate and can move the puck, then you are probably going to enjoy watching him play.”

Mike Yeo; 7/17/20

That’s the calling card for the Philadephia Flyers defense. Travis Sanheim and Philippe Myers are two more big defensemen who can move the puck with intelligence. Mike Yeo mentioned that Sanheim and Myers have looked as good as ever at the end of the first week of training camp. A priority that Yeo has identified is getting the second defensive pairing of Myers and Sanheim ready for superstar opponents.

“There was a lot of times where we’re playing against Washington and Ovechkin’s on the ice and Myers and Sanheim are going head to head against those guys. Same thing against Toronto and against Auston Matthews. Not only did we not hide those guys, but we purposely matched them against the best lines in the league.”

Mike Yeo; 7/17/20

One player on the outside looking in of defensive pairings is Shayne Gostisbehere. Under Alain Vigneault, Gostisbehere is a player that offers insurance against superstar opponents. He, at one point, was a budding two-way defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers. Gostisbehere could be one playoff series away from finding his groove.

“He looked really good to me right now. His competitive level is very, very high. With that, I think it’s putting his skill in a position for him to have success. He’s a guy that we are looking at very closely.”

Mike Yeo; 7/17/20

As the second week of training camp progresses, the Philadelphia Flyers approach their exhibition game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on July 28th, 2020. These roster maneuvers will come down to discussions including Mike Yeo and Alain Vigneault. Based on the 2019-2020 season, Yeo and Vigneault have put the Flyers in a position to succeed. The exciting part of the exhibition games and the round-robin format will be the focus on these specific players under the careful coaching eye.

Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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