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Carchidi: While Other Philly Teams Thrive, Flyers’ Goal Should Be Respectability



Samuel Ersson, Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers
Samuel Ersson and Carter Hart at practice Wednesday. The Flyers open the season Thursday vs. the visiting Devils. Photo: Zack Hill.

It’s no secret that the Philadelphia Flyers did not have the best offseason.

Cap-strapped, general manager Chuck Fletcher did little in the free agent or trade markets. The team, on paper, got only slightly better than last season, when it collected just 61 points, fourth-fewest in the NHL.

Getting development from the youngsters — 12 players who are 25 or under are on the opening-night roster — should be the goal. That, and being much more competitive in games.

Carchidi: 10 Fearless Predictions on Flyers’ Season

It won’t be easy because Ryan Ellis, the team’s top defenseman, has not recovered from a pelvic injury and will probably miss the season. Top-line center Sean Couturier re-injured his surgically repaired back and there is no timetable for his return, though he did start skating recently and he appears to be making progress.

So while the Eagles and Phillies are thriving, and the 76ers appear headed toward a strong season, the Flyers are an afterthought as their season begins Thursday against visiting New Jersey.

“It’s a great time to be a spots fan in the city of Philadelphia,” Fletcher said in his opening remarks to the media Wednesday at the Flyers Training Center.

Here’s the hope

The hope is that new coach John Tortorella gets more out the roster with his demanding style; that Tony DeAngelo jump-starts a power play that was last in the league last season; that young players like Morgan Frost, Noah Cates, Owen Tippett, and Wade Allison make big strides; that young veterans like Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov take a step toward becoming stars; that Carter Hart returns to the form he showed in his first two seasons.

“This is a young, fast team,” Fletcher said. ” … They’re a little bit unproven. That’s something we’re going to have to work through; that’s something Torts has been addressing with you guys as well. There’s a lot of work to do, but there’s a lot of upside — the youth, the speed, the depth. We have really good depth this year, much better than the last two years. So if we do have injuries, which seem to happen during the course of the season, I think we have a lot of kids down in Lehigh Valley we can call up.”

Fletcher was asked about the team’s goals.

“In terms of expectations, what John and I have been saying is we expect to work hard this season. We expect to work hard at establishing a standard at which we’re going to be held, both on and off the ice. We’re expecting to defend much better. Play harder away from the puck. Be a more competitive team.”

The Philadelphia Flyers allowed 3.59 goals per game last season, placing them 27th in the 32-team league.

“Clearly we’ve got to reduce our goals against,” Fletcher said. “That’s something that you can control through hard work and structure and attention to detail. That’s an area that the coaches have been focusing on in camp and we’ve spoken internally about it. So to me, I’d like to see significant improvement in our compete, in our details, and keeping the puck out of the net — and allowing our goaltenders to see the puck a little cleaner.

“If we can do that, we’ll be a pretty competitive team.”

Growing pains

Fletcher said Tortorella’s system and special teams will have to “work through some things,” especially early in the season.

But he is optimistic.

“There’s great energy down there right now,” he said, looking down at ice level in Voorhees. “Players are recharged after last season. I think everyone is excited to get back.”

Young defensemen Egor Zamula and Ronnie Attard are on the opening-night roster. Zamula is expected to start Thursday’s opener against visiting New Jersey.

“If young players are not getting regular ice time here, clearly we’ll get them down to Lehigh Valley at the appropriate point,” Fletcher said. “I still think John is looking at the different combinations. I believe Zamula has a strong chance to play tomorrow night, but we’ll see what John does.”

Zamula, 22, who had a strong season with the Phantoms last season, was with Justin Braun on the third pairing at practice Wednesday.

“We’ll see how things play out the first couple games here,” Fletcher said, sounding as if Zamula will get an early-season “tryout” with the big team.

Fletcher said one of Tortorella’s strengths is determining how his players fit on the team he is trying to build. That and “developing young players,” he said.

“There’s no question, this season we have to see who is part of the solution — whether you’re a veteran player or a younger player who is trying to push.” Fletcher said. ” … We feel we will get better as the season goes along.”


RW Cam Atkinson (upper-body injury) will not be ready to play in Thursday’s game, Tortorella said. … Tortorella did not have an update on defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who left practice early for an unknown reason.


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