Finishing out these preseason exhibitions like the Philadelphia Flyers did on their home ice means more than what meets the eye.
At the beginning of the 2023 Flyers Preseason, the New Jersey Devils whooped the Flyers, 6-0, from the Prudential Center. After that, it was tough to outwork any version of a Flyers lineup. Tonight, it was the Flyers’ turn to win convincingly, doing it at the Wells Fargo Center.
“The camp’s gone well. The guys came in really good shape and went through that part of the camp very well. We did a lot more tape work early on this year, as far as our concept; covered a lot. We scored five goals tonight, but I liked our checking. I know it’s not against a full Islanders lineup; I just like the attention to the checking part of it. [We] saw the people we needed to see. [I] thought we were fair in the people that got the ice time; got the games. [We] have a really good assessment on most of the guys that came through camp.”John Tortorella; 10/5/2023
The final score, 5-2, indicates a dominant team victory. What is indicative of the Flyers as the preseason concludes and the regular season arrives?
Flyers vs. Islanders
Carter Hart went head-to-head with Semyon Varlamov between the pipes.
Arnaud Durandeau caught Hart out of position, but the post made the save. Soon after, Sean Couturier flashed across the crease for a deflection attempt, but the puck sailed wide. As the stress levels increased, Travis Sanheim mishandled a pass from Cam York in the offensive zone. Karson Kuhlman recovered in the neutral zone, throttling a breakaway on Hart to put the Islanders up, 1-0, with 10:07 remaining in the first period.
Not off to a hot start, the Flyers had to fight off penalties served by York and Tyson Foerster. The special teams did their job, finishing 4/4 on the penalty kill and 1/4 on the powerplay. It is important for management to understand the skaters on their roster, and make a fair assessment. In the first period, John Tortorella saw his lineup respond after lagging.
“I think that’s what you find about the mental makeup of a person.”John Tortorella; 10/5/2023
Nicolas Deslauriers, Ryan Poehling, and Garnet Hathaway proved why Tortorella prefers that bottom line in Philadelphia. They checked in the offensive zone, creating scoring chances by taking the puck away. Emil Andrae, filling in for Rasmus Ristolainen, and Sanheim kept the possession alive while Hathaway and Poehling cycled the puck deep into the offensive zone. Varlamov never had a chance to settle into a position because of how disruptive Hathaway was on the forecheck. Deslauriers tied the game, 1-1, after stuffing the puck past Varlamov from a backdoor feed by Hathaway with 4:45 remaining in the first period.
Next, Noah Cates finished a big shift. He blocked a shot by Scott Mayfield, then broke toward the middle of the ice to receive the pass from Travis Konecny for a backhanded finish, 2-1, with 3:36 remaining in the first period.
Poehling and Hathaway are sneakily smooth with the puck in the offensive zone. By design, it isn’t a trait often shared between fourth-line skaters, but it’s incredibly valuable for the lineup Tortorella wants to deploy. Their team play in the first period energized the Flyers into the second.
Foerster did notch a point. He recorded a secondary assist, bumping the puck up the boards to Morgan Frost in the neutral zone. Frost roped a pass to Owen Tippett, who collected his own rebound on Varlamov to score on the second effort, 3-1, with 11:46 remaining in the second period. It would be the game-winner.
“He [Foerster] moved the puck well. He was on the puck; protected the puck well. I thought he played really well. I know he doesn’t have the points, but I thought he had a good camp and did a lot of the little things I’m looking for, too.”John Tortorella; 10/5/2023
Julien Gauthier served for tripping, putting the Flyers on their third powerplay. As the puck dropped on the faceoff, Foerster was tripped, but there wasn’t a whistle. The Islanders got away, for a moment, with just a five-on-four disadvantage, but then Casey Cizikas got caught for a minor interference. Now, the Islanders served the five-on-three disadvantage they owed.
Konecny extended the lead on the powerplay. Foerster rotated from RW to LW on the powerplay, creating a more open passing lane for Couturier to complete a tic-tac-toe passing sequence to Konecny for the goal, 4-1, with 1:15 remaining in the second period.
Defensively, the Flyers held the Islanders without a shot for 13 minutes. In all, Hart made 14/16 saves. He didn’t receive a big workload of shots, but there is room for improvement. Behind the net, Hart misplayed the puck, turning Nick Seeler into a goaltender for a moment. Brian Pinho took advantage of the turnover, cutting the deficit to 4-2 with 14:15 remaining in regulation.
There was a short lull, but then Frost pounced on a loose puck in the neutral zone. En route to the crease, Frost refocused a pass to Cam Atkinson, who scored his second of the preseason, 5-2, with 12:19 remaining in regulation.
Before the final horn, Hart redeemed his earlier turnover, flashing the glove on Matthew Maggio. The Flyers complete their 2023 NHL Preseason, defeating the Islanders, 5-2, en route to a 3-2-1 record.
Next, the Flyers begin the 2023-2024 season on the road at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, October 12th. The puck drops from Nationwide Arena at 7pm.
(Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire)