Imperfect Flyers finding early success in 2022-2023

Flyers' John Tortorella
VOORHEES, PA – JULY 14: Flyers head coach John Tortorella watches development camp behind the netting at the Flyers Training Center on July 14, 2022 in Voorhees NJ. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

This start to 2022-2023 for the Philadelphia Flyers wasn’t suspected by many in the offseason. For the third year in a row, they’re off to a 5-2-1 start through eight games.

Philadelphia hasn’t dominated opponents, but they play with grit, contributing to their comeback wins. Analytically, they wouldn’t appear to be a top three team in a stacked Metropolitan Division. Nonetheless, they are.

Tortorella not stressed about analytics

Hosting the Florida Panthers, the Flyers were outshot 51-22, but managed to win, 4-3. John Tortorella knows this won’t be a great ‘analytic team’ but they need to find ways to win regardless:

“We’re not gonna have many nights, I think, with great numbers. The analytic stuff that’s spit out there after each game, I just don’t think we’re gonna be a great analytic team. We’ve talked about that. We have just gotta’ try to find a way. That’s how we have to be.”

John Tortorella; 10/27/2022

Analytics provide more in-depth coverage regarding an individual and a team as a whole. Tortorella has certain analytics that he thinks are good, but they aren’t the end goal for him:

“Don’t ever say that analytics is the end goal for me, ’cause it’s not. I have certain analytics that I think are good. I think most of them are trash. I believe in the eye test and the stomach.”

John Tortorella; 10/28/2022

Regarding the Flyers, the analytics don’t lie. They aren’t playing like a team that’s top three in any division. They are passing the eye test with flying colors, however. Tortorella knows the team must fix many aspects of their game, but analytics won’t tell the whole story.

Hart’s hot start

Kevin Hayes cited Carter Hart as the main reason for a lot of these victories, specifically after the win versus the Panthers. He stopped 48/51 shots in that contest, cementing a new level to his game this season. Structurally, the defense alleviates a lot of scoring chances, forcing pucks to have to travel a longer distance.

“I thought we did a good job of keeping pucks to the outside. Had a lot of blocked shots, I think that’s something with our team this year and something that Torts has really stressed is to block shots. Guys are really buying in.”

Carter Hart; 10/27/2022

Over the last two season, Hart struggled, but is finding his swagger. When Tortorella first spoke to Philadelphia media in June, he stressed the team must play better in front of Hart. So far, they did that.

More positives than negatives

In overtime, the Flyers fell to the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-3. The Orange and Black were down, 2-0, but erased the deficit like we’ve seen multiple times. Unable to close out the comeback victory, they did manage to escape with an overtime point in the NHL standings versus a potential Stanley Cup contender.

Tortorella mentioned that the second and third periods versus the Hurricanes were some of the best the team played:

“The thing I liked about the game, the second and third periods, was our checking. I thought we checked really good in the third period. But I just felt we made more puck plays. We came up the middle more in that third period than we’ve done in the past three or four games.”

John Tortorella; 10/29/2022

Philadelphia landed 27 hits and the fourth-line buzzed all night. Nicolas Deslauriers and Wade Allison both had a goal, assisted by Lukas Sedlak. The entire fourth-line registered two points each.

“We need to get goals by committee; they helped us out,” Tortorella said.

On the road again

The Flyers growing identity will take to the road starting tonight. Beginning another back-to-back series, starting with the New York Rangers, they’ll have to travel and battle the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow.

Both the Rangers and the Maple Leafs are perennial playoff contenders but that doesn’t matter to Tortorella:

“Doesn’t matter to me who we’re playing. I’m not a big guy on a test to see where you stand. We’re taking it one day at a time. It doesn’t matter who we play, we’re just trying to be the best we can be. All games are tough.”

John Tortorella; 10/31/2022

The best teams take everything ‘one day at a time.’

(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)