Flyers’ Ristolainen to make season debut versus Panthers

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Flyers' Rasmus Ristolainen
VANCOUVER, BC – OCTOBER 28: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (70) skates with the puck during their NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena on October 28, 2021 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire)

Rasmus Ristolainen will make his 2022-2023 debut for the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow versus the Florida Panthers.

Just before the Flyers’ home opener, Ristolainen left practice on October 12th. He was placed on injured reserve five days later. Today, John Tortorella confirmed that Ristolainen will return to the lineup tomorrow.

Tortorella knows that Ristolainen is a physical player who is always looking to use his body. However, he doesn’t want the defenseman to exclusively look for the big hits. He wants him to add patience and positioning into his game instead of relying on physicality:

“I think the biggest thing is I don’t want him just looking for the big hits. I think when you start looking for the big hits as a defenseman, you end up on the outside, that’s when people start coming through you. I want the physicality, but I also want some patience and positioning in his game.”

John Tortorella; 10/25/2022

Ristolainen is a physical presence in general, specifically among the blue line. He was acquired ahead of 2021-2022 to add physicality that was lacking. Always present with an aggressive style, Ristolainen needs to be smarter about choosing his chances; learning to prioritize position.

Defensive woes traveled with Ristolainen from Buffalo to Philadelphia. At times, he and Travis Sanheim showed flashes of brilliance. Tomorrow, he’ll begin with another clean slate with Tortorella overlooking the bench.

“Yeah, personally, I think I am good to go.”

Rasmus Ristolainen; 10/26/2022

Last season, Ristolainen and Sanheim were one of the more consistent pairings on the second pair of the defensive unit. Sanheim was the team’s best defenseman and Ristolainen complimented his play with brute force. Ristolainen is focused on killing plays before they begin to form, as Tortorella preaches about the Flyers’ defense.

“Talented people find people. The longer they have the puck and it’s not stopped, it’s better for the other guys without the puck to get away from their check. It gives them more of an opportunity. That’s why we want to stop it as quickly as possible.”

John Tortorella; 10/26/2022

Philadelphia will rotate seven defensemen versus the Panthers, per Tortorella.

(Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire)