John Tortorella took his position at the bench for the first time with the Philadelphia Flyers. He’ll be the bench boss for the final two preseason games, entering the 2022-2023 regular season. Both will feature the New York Islanders as the opponent, beginning with tonight’s 2-1 loss.
There wasn’t a specific period of this game where it felt like the Flyers had the momentum. The first period was mostly a stalemate. Not a great feeling for Philadelphia, who was tied 0-0 in the shutout rout against the Boston Bruins. Despite Tony DeAngelo scoring on the powerplay, giving a lead, the Islanders wiped the deficit as quickly as it came. Kyle Palmieri scored a powerplay goal, despite a circus save attempt by Samuel Ersson, which nearly worked.
Later, after killing a penalty by Wade Allison, the Islanders scored the game-winning goal off the stick of Scott Mayfield. Allison wasn’t in position out of the penalty box, and Mayfield took his time to assess traffic in front of Ersson before placing a well-aimed wrist shot on goal.
Ultimately, the Flyers fell to an uninspired Islanders team with more starters in the lineup. That and more in Reese’s Remarks:
Before the game, Tortorella said this about his roster, and it remained true:
“I think we have a ways to go in learning how to carry ourselves; with confidence, with a professional attitude, that is an area I think we need to improve in.”John Tortorella; 10/2/2022
Handling momentum swings have a lot to do with the identity of a team. Brad Shaw said the same earlier this week:
“Second periods are reflections of good teams. The teams that are feeling like they are up at the upper echelon, they tend to have good second periods, and if we want to become a good team, we have to clean up our second periods.”Brad Shaw; 9/28/2022
Tonight was less about a second-period slide and more about what Tortorella mentioned. Philadelphia played on their heels once the game tied. They had a lead to stand up and fight with but folded the moment Palmieri scored on the powerplay. That is a fragile mindset, which Tortorella pointed out.
“I think handling momentum swings in games that mean something when you start the regular season are very important as far as who you are. I think we have a ways to go there, and to me, that’s mental. Those aren’t physical skills, that’s a mental skill.”John Tortorella; 10/2/2022
Once the Flyers found themselves in penalty trouble, Tortorella needed his players to get back to basics. He did credit his team for playing hard. Tortorella said it himself:
“I thought we battled back. Didn’t make a lot of plays but I thought throughout most of the game we played hard. We really stressed to them when we dipped in the second a little bit due to the penalty problems just to get back into it by playing simple. They did a pretty good job of that.”John Tortorella; 10/2/2022
Against a lineup featuring mostly starters, Philadelphia did battle. A loss isn’t the desired result, but these younger players took a step in the right direction according to the bench boss. Unfortunately, playing on your heels will dig you into a hole you cannot get out of. It happened tonight. For Tortorella, during this training camp, it matters how the team finishes; and they did battle to the final horn in a six-on-five advantage.
DeAngelo, Lycksell, Allison, N. Cates, and Ersson (+)
DeAngelo was consistent on defense. He walked the blue line on the powerplay, looking comfortable in space. DeAngelo comfortably quarterbacked a two-man advantage with Morgan Frost and Tyson Foerster lurking behind Semyon Varlamov. Frost provided the back door feed to DeAngelo for the one-timer goal. The Flyers are looking for offense from behind the net on the powerplay, something that high-scoring offenses did in 2021-2022.
“Tyson almost faked me out; he made it look like we were going to the other side, even though the play was to come back to me. I thought he forgot about it for a second, to be honest, it was a great fake. Tony made a great play to adjust; I put it a little inside on his stick, and he had a good shot there.”Morgan Frost; 10/2/2022
Olle Lycksell does the same things consistently. In the first period, he had a scoring chance on a rebound opportunity but whiffed. Better than his offensive prowess was his penalty-killing ability. He and Ersson helped keep the Islanders off the scoreboard in the first period. Lycksell learned from the loss against the Bruins, battling for his goaltender with the puck loose in the defensive zone.
Allison looked as normal as ever, which popped on the ice. His high-energy style revealed itself in the second and third periods. Allison made waves in the offensive zone though Varlamov saved. Unfortunately, Allison was ultimately out of place when Mayfield scored the game-winner, a late sprint from the box to the defensive end. Drawing a couple more penalties before the end of regulation gave Philadelphia powerplay chances, but Jakub Skarek kept the door shut.
Noah Cates moved from wing to center. Tortorella was impressed by how Cates arrived at training camp and wanted an extended look. Ian Laperriere accepted early this preseason that Cates might not be with him on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms roster. Cates nearly scored on a wrap-around tonight, but Varlamov did his job. His versatility, and the desire to see Cates play in a new position, emphasize the presumption that he’ll be on the Flyers when they open the season against the New Jersey Devils.
“Sometimes when you’re the wide-side winger, slashing, pushing the [defense] back. Center, you got some more responsibilities, and just got to be a little bit smarter, not get ahead of the puck on their forwards. Definitely a bit of an adjustment; I played center a little bit a couple of years ago. Just trying to be smart, not get ahead of myself, or caught up in the play.”Noah Cates; 10/2/2022
Ersson made his case for the 2G role behind Carter Hart. Troy Grosenick doesn’t look like the leading candidate to back up Hart based on performance. With Felix Sandstrom out of the lineup, Ersson might force a hand. It would make sense for Ersson to play this season with the Phantoms, keeping health as his priority. Philadelphia has a damaged roster, and Tortorella isn’t hesitant in his desire to play prospects.
Scott Laughton (-)
Here is a rare knock against Scott Laughton:
Of the forwards dressing tonight, he was one of the guarantees to make the Flyers lineup. He will; that doesn’t change. Unfortunately, he didn’t make himself known in this game. It’s just the preseason, but veteran names shouldn’t be forgettable.
Other veterans on the ice who made an impression were Frost, notching an assist, and Nicolas Deslauriers, drawing additional penalties resulting in a powerplay goal by DeAngelo. Laughton was almost exclusively of use at the faceoff dot.
(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)