Flyers must overcome mental barriers to break losing streak

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Flyers' John Tortorella
PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 08: Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Tortorella looks on during the game between the ST. Louis Blues and the Philadelphia Flyers on November 8, 2022 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA.(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Twenty games came and went for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2022-2023. Over the first ten games, John Tortorella coached his club to a 5-3-2 start. During the latest ten games, the record depreciated to 2-5-3.

Putting your finger on the one thing that is causing this is impossible. It’s not one thing. It’s a collage of different things. Generally, it’s unfair to give a proper evaluation of what the Flyers are because they’ve yet to be healthy.

The soonest that players begin to return is around a two-week timeframe. By that time, the forward group could recover Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, and James van Riemsdyk.

Amid an eight-game losing streak, Philadelphia needs to lean into its team resiliency more than ever. In 2021-2022, the Flyers drowned in separate double-digit losing stints. A popular note in many post-game press conferences during the Mike Yeo era surrounded learning how to win. Confidence is still at the root of the issue as much as execution. Tortorella understands his team has the odds stacked against them on a nightly basis, to which he extends the team has to execute in front of stellar goaltending.

Giving up an unearned opportunity is the common thread with Philadelphia, and they’re just not equipped to play against the opponent and themselves on a nightly basis.

“We just give them something for free. The two-on-ones are just fundamental plays as far as backing up your defense. Nothing for free. We are not equipped to give things away for free.”

John Tortorella; 11/23/2022

That could mean blowing a coverage, turning the puck over, or taking too many penalties. All those errors contributed to the losing streak, one that could’ve been interrupted with a victory on a few occasions. Tortorella provided his frustration surrounding the latest loss against the Washington Capitals, especially the equalizing goal by Sonny Milano:

“The frustrating part, for me, is the second goal. It’s a coverage that we have gone over time and time again, and we just do not do it correctly. That cost us the second goal.”

John Tortorella; 11/23/2022

The energy and drive are present. The Flyers are squeezing points out of most games they’ve played. Out of twenty, twelve contributed towards the NHL standings. In a lot of ways, that makes this losing streak more frustrating. A loss is a loss and streaking in that direction is a tough mindset to shake.

“With some guys, they’re not able to think that way in wanting to win; almost waiting to lose. I think that happens with some guys. Other parts of the game, it’s execution.”

John Tortorella; 11/23/2022

Sounds like 2021-2022.

“At this point, we’re finding ways to lose. We gotta’ stop that.”

Ivan Provorov; 11/23/2022

There is a definite rift in the team psyche. The correct mindset involves believing in your abilities to overcome roadblocks, especially when no one else does. Regardless of who is in the lineup, energy and effort are controllable. A testament to a Tortorella team is the mental fortitude and tenacity possessed on the roster:

“As far as the energy level and competing, I think we’ve been pretty steady there. [If] we start losing that, we’re in deep sh*t. That’s something we can control, and hopefully, we do.”

John Tortorella; 11/23/2022

Tonight, Philadelphia hosts the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center on night one of a back-to-back, finishing on the road against the New York Islanders tomorrow. Chasing the Penguins in the Metropolitan Division and closing out a game with a lead, should the situation present itself, goes a long way to restoring some confidence.

(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)