John Tortorella gave a thoughtful explanation about how he is trying to improve Kevin Hayes’ game.
The Philadelphia Flyers coach also gave a weird description of Morgan Frost’s game and how he sees it.
Frost is “up and down like a toilet seat,” Tortorella said on Tuesday before the Flyers played solidly from start to finish and defeated the New York Islanders, 3-1, to snap a 10-game losing skid.
The 23-year-old Frost is getting a shot to show he belongs in the NHL; he played for a while on the first line because of all the Flyers’ injuries. His play has been up and down.
“Hopefully, it levels out and keeps going in the proper direction, because he’s supposed to be a skilled guy,” Tortorella said. “You can see it’s there, but it’s still very inconsistent.”
Frost, who once had consecutive seasons with 100-plus points in the OHL, has five points (3-2) in 23 games, and has just one goal since the opener. At times, he seems close to breaking out, but so far hasn’t quite gotten there.
Tortorella wants more from both Frost and Hayes.
The coach loves Hayes’ offense, but feels other parts of his game are lacking. That’s why he shifted him from center to right wing, giving him less defensive responsibility.
“He’s been so strong on the puck, offensively. He’s a good offensive player,” Tortorella said after Hayes scored two goals Tuesday. “We all know that. I think he has really stepped up on holding onto pucks offensively, and he’s trying away from the puck.”
For the last two games, Hayes (24 points in 23 games) has played right wing on a line with left winger Joel Farabee and center Lukas Sedlak, 29, who improved his overall game in Russia’s KHL over the previous three seasons.
“I think he’s in a better spot playing wing, where he just doesn’t get as many opportunities as far as low coverage and where there’s some struggles in his game,” Tortorella said about Hayes. “So, we’re trying – a team that’s starving for offense – I’m trying to take the pressure off of him defensively, and not being worried about all those types of situations low and let him work on the other part of his game.”
Hayes, 30, has been a good soldier, accepting whatever position Tortorella wants him to play, even though he has been a center throughout his career. He says he is comfortable at any of three forward positions.
Tortorellsa moved Hayes down from the first to third line for a while. Now he’s back with the top unit.
“Everybody thinks Kevin’s in the doghouse. Kevin isn’t in the doghouse,” Tortorella said. “Kevin needs to learn to play the right way, and I think he’s trying to do that.”
Hayes isn’t the Flyers’ problem. Their problems are wide-ranging – from their ineffective special teams, to their lack of firepower, to their overall defensive coverage.
For one night, at least, most of those problems were masked.
Injured defenseman Tony DeAngelo was not at practice Wednesday, so Rasmus Ristolainen remained on the top pairing with Ivan Provorov. … Travis Konecny, trying to get back in the lineup after an apparent hand injury, skated but was not with any of the lines. … Sedlak has consecutive multi-point games for the first time in his career.