Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher is trying to piece together a quality lineup for the future. It will take time, of course, but he believes he has bolstered his group of right wingers by getting Owen Tippett in the Claude Giroux trade.
Later in the season, the Flyers’ right wingers will probably look like this: Cam Atkinson, Travis Konecny, and look-alikes Tippett and Wade Allison, who had four points for the AHL’s Phantoms on Saturday and could soon be recalled.
Tippett, 23, was solid in his Flyers debut Sunday as they defeated the New York Islanders, 2-1, at the Wells Fargo Center.
“He’s a young man that’s ready to take this step, ready to play in the NHL,” Fletcher said before the victory. “Like every young player, there’s things we’ll have to work on with him and help him develop. His size, speed, skating, shot — he’s got a lot of attributes we need and he brings youth.”
Playing on a line with center Morgan Frost and left winger Oskar Lindblom, Tippett got nearly 15 minutes of ice time and had six shot attempts (two on goal) and played with an edge. He also whipped a shot off the post.
“He looks like a hockey player to me,” interim coach Mike Yeo said after Kevin Hayes’ two goals paced the hard-earned victory, one that ended an eight-game winless skid (0-3-5) against the sluggish-looking Isles.
Considering he never practiced with the Flyers, Tippett played well and will probably get better on a five-game road trip that starts Tuesday in Detroit.
“Loved parts of his game,” Yeo said. “Obviously, a heavy game and (had) scoring chances in the second period. The puck got off his stick in a hurry. I liked him shooting off the flank on the power play to set up Hayes’ power-play goal.”
Yeo also liked his work along the boards,and the fact that Tippett — known as Tipper to those close to him — told him before the opening faceoff that he was working on his 200-foot game.
“That means he’s trying to improve defensively,” Yeo said. “I didn’t have anything to point out or say to him today, so obviously a great start for him.”
Tippett arrived in Philadelphia Saturday night. There wasn’t a lot of time to think about his Philly debut.
“When you jump right into things, it takes your mind off things,” he said.
Playing on a line with Frost also helped. The two are familiar with each other.
“We played together on Team Canada in juniors,” said Frost, who had a strong game. “Not on the same line, but we were together, so it was nice. I’ve always enjoyed watching him play. I thought we did some good things.”
Fletcher said the team’s “first priority” was getting an NHL-ready player in the Giroux trade. The Flyers also received first- and third-round draft picks.
It was the Flyers’ first official game without Giroux since he was dealt. They also played without him Friday, a 3-1 loss in Ottawa in which Giroux sat out because the Flyers didn’t want to risk an injury.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) March 20, 2022
Hayes returning to form
Getting Hayes to resemble the center who played so well two years ago is a “must,” if the Flyers are going to turn things around next season.
“We don’t look as these as wasted games,” Yeo said about the Flyers being out of the playoff picture. “We have to try to build our identity as a team. … The other part is, you want guys feeling good about themselves, and Hayesy, I mean, the guy has been through so much this year.”
He was referring to his three surgeries and the tragic death of his brother, Jimmy.
“This is a guy who could have packed it in, but he wants to play,” Yeo said. “I have so much respect for him for that.”
Hayes has looked like his old self in his latest return from a groin injury.He has been back for eight games, and has four goals in his last four contests, including a pair of tallies Sunday.
Joel Farabee and Travis Konecny has assists on both goals.
Hayes knocked home a tape-to-tape pass from Konecny to tie the game at 1-1 with 15:38 left in the second period. Joel Farabee did the dirty work, causing Sebastian Aho to cough up the puck to Konecny and put the play in motion.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) March 20, 2022
With 5:05 to go in the second, Hayes made it 2-1 from the doorstep after a remarkable pass from Farabee as he was falling down in the slot.
“I feel better. Like I said before, it’s honestly night and day compared to how I felt in my previous two comebacks,” Hayes said.
“If he can continue to feel good about himself, then that’s a great story for us,” Yeo said.
Winger Gerry Mayhew, who had six goals in 26 games this season with the Philadelphia Flyers and was surprisingly placed on waivers, was claimed Sunday by Anaheim. Mayhew, a former AHL MVP, displayed good speed during his time with the Flyers this season.
Moment of silence
Before the game, a moment of silence was held for Justin Ott, 25, who died tragically in a skiing accident last week. Known for his upbeat personality, he worked in the Philadelphia Flyers’ game-presentation department.
His friends have started a GoFundMe page to create a permanent memorial and to support charities on his behalf. For more info, go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/justinottforever.
Lauren Hart wore an “Ott” jersey when she sang the national anthem Sunday, and it was presented to the Ott family at the game.
Carter Hart stopped 26 of 27 shots and is 3-0-1 at home since March 5, compiling a 2.48 GAA and .931 save percentage in that span. … Zack MacEwen had a career-high five shots. … Isles coach Barry Trotz: “We didn’t have a lot of juice tonight.” … The Flyers outshot the Islanders, 37-27. … Ivan Provorov had 3 blocks. … Travis Sanheim had seven shot attempts (four on goal) and two block. … Justin Braun, who is a trade candidate, sat out because the Flyers didn’t want to risk an injury. Nick Seeler took his spot and had two hits, two shots and two blocks.