Among the forwards, skaters like Bobby Brink, Wade Allison, and Tyson Foerster are battling for a full-time role in the NHL with the Flyers. The defense remains wide open, one of the most intriguing areas of the lineup. Then, there is the battle for the backup goaltender role, and Sam Ersson earned the start versus the Boston Bruins.
Who made an impression at the Wells Fargo Center with John Tortorella at the bench?
Flyers vs. Bruins
Compared to the lineup the Flyers deployed, it was clear the Bruins had their second team on the ice. Jim Montgomery, on Sunday, mentioned he wanted to see how that group of players responded from practice, being in the second group. He questioned if his players would view it like the media and if it would jerk the attention of players losing a competitive edge late into training camp.
In the bottom six of the Flyers lineup were Foerster, Brink, and Allison. It highlighted the battle for the 3RW role, which Brink is tightly contesting. Accounting for previous NHL experience, Foerster had the clear advantage in the position battle, but Brink is a training camp standout. Allison is not waiver-exempt, however. He must clear waivers if he is not carried as the extra forward.
“It’s hard for me to keep Bobby Brink away from a top-six spot, right now, as far as how many plays he’s making.”John Tortorella; 10/2/2023
Brink began the final leg of his campaign to make the Flyers’ opening night lineup. On an early powerplay, he dictated the puck movement with Travis Sanheim. Jeremy Swayman made a stellar save on Noah Cates. Then, another powerplay followed almost immediately after. Foerster had a couple of shooting lanes this time on the powerplay, and you just can’t help but think about how he would be with Brink in the same unit.
It was a treat to see how fine of a passer Brink is. He doesn’t rush passes, sometimes manipulating the angles and timing, then usually placing the puck on his teammate’s tape.
The 3RW roster battle was heating up, but then Sean Couturier served a penalty for hooking. Morgan Geekie helped the Bruins take the lead on the powerplay, 1-0, putting the Flyers special teams off to a cumulative 0/2 on the powerplay and 0/1 on the penalty kill. Make that 0/3 on the powerplay by the end of the first period, when the Bruins had the momentum.
After a scrimmage in the 2023 Flyers Training Camp, Tortorella exchanged words with his skaters, later citing he thought the energy ‘sucked.’ We can only imagine the phrasing during the first intermission because the Flyers answered. What could be deducted is how Tortorella felt about Brink, placing him on the first line with Joel Farabee and Couturier at the beginning of the second period.
“I just thought we were a little flat in the first period, and then just changed some lines up.”John Tortorella; 10/2/2023
Cam Atkinson scored on a backhand, 1-1, with 18:50 remaining in the second period. Morgan Frost went to send the puck behind the goal and around the boards, but it deflected off Owen Tippett toward Atkinson near the crease. Then, :58 later, Frost tallied another assist, shooting up the boards and dishing the puck to Travis Konecny, who snuck his shot past Swayman, 2-1, with 17:52 remaining.
“It’s always good to score. It was kind of an opportunistic bounce; right place, right time and I was able to put it away.”Cam Atkinson; 10/2/2023
Excelling in the finer details, Brink drew penalties along with moving the puck on the powerplay and his overall crisp passing. Patrick Brown served for tripping, and while the Flyers possessed the puck in the offensive zone, they dropped to 0/4 on the powerplay. Then, Ryan Poehling served the same penalty, but Ronnie Attard helped the Flyers penalty kill get back on track, making the final clear to improve to 1/2.
Speaking of Attard, he helped extend the lead on the Bruins. Farabee initially looked for Couturier in the slot, but Couturier broke his stick. He got an assist because Attard recovered the puck and shot from the point, but Farabee scored on the deflection, 3-1, with 4:00 remaining in the second period.
“I feel like I have jump in my legs; I’m getting to the right spots. Whether it’s one stride, two strides getting on guys, that’s really been the difference for my training this summer.”Joel Farabee; 10/2/2023
Couturier and Atkinson were buzzing atop the third period. They each had a point on the stat sheet, a highly encouraging sign from both veterans. Atkinson nearly scored after the Flyers killed another penalty; 2/3 on the penalty kill. Not only did Atkinson almost drive a puck home, but on the ensuing sequence on his shift, he helped push the puck into transition, making an intelligent bump to Frost while creating a slight misdirection.
“Coots and Cam, I thought they were much better tonight. They were out a long time; Coots has been out forever and Cam missed a whole year. They were much better tonight. We’ll probably play them [in] the last game, too.”John Tortorella; 10/2/2023
Overall, the Flyers finished 0/5 on the powerplay and 2/3 on the penalty kill, improving on special teams defensively as the night progressed. Ersson didn’t face a ton of shots. The Bruins were outshot 24-14 and outhit 18-12 but excelled in scoring on special teams and blocking shots.
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)