Flyers Rookie Noah Cates Going ‘Home,’ and Loving the Move
Noah Cates is going home. Sort of.
Cates has been playing center, but will move back to his natural position, left wing, when the Philadelphia Flyers (4-2) host Florida (4-2-1) on Thursday.
Coach John Tortorella says he wants to take some of the stress away from Cates by playing him at left wing, and hopes it will give him more confidence.
“Playing center I think definitely takes a little wind out of my sails,” Cates said after practice Wednesday in Voorhees. “I think I’m thinking a little too much, thinking a a little too much defensively.”
At wing, Cates won’t have as much defensive responsibility. He conceded he got concerned about faceoffs, and “different things were kind of getting to me and wearing me down a little bit. I think I’ll have a little more jump playing wing, and a little less fatigue factor. … Mentally, I’ll be a little more free.”
Cates, 23, has played all six games at center. He has one goal — a highlight-film, game-winning tally after he took the puck away from two Tampa Bay defenders on the forechceck — but has struggled in the faceoff circle, winning just 35%.
To his credit, he accepted the switch to center, a position he hadn’t played since his junior year in college, with a positive attitude. He knows there’s a chance he could return to center at some point.
But for the time being, he’s ecstatic to move back to left wing.
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Cates said coach John Tortorella told him about the position change Tuesday. The Minnesota native called it a “welcome change for me. I’m really looking forward to it. I really think I can help this team when I’m a winger.”
He is one of the Philadelphia Flyers’ best forecheckers, and with less defensive responsibilities, that should help the team’s offense.
“I can be on my toes more, and slashing across,” Cates said. “I’m really excited about this.”
Playing six games at center, Cates said, helped him “learn what good wingers do, and I can take some stuff from that. It just helps my overall game when I’m moving around.”
In 16 games as a left winger with the Flyers last season, Cates had nine points (5-4) and was plus-4.
This year, he has one point, the game-winning goal in Tampa, and a plus-1 rating in six games.
Based on Wednesday’s practice, Cates will be on a line Thursday with center Scott Laughton and right winger Owen Tippett.