For Flyers, Time to ‘Make a Push’ as They Return to Ice
As the Philadelphia Flyers get ready to resume their schedule Monday and play their final 31 games of the season, head coach John Tortorella isn’t looking at what the team needs to do to get into the playoffs.
“I just don’t look at the standings,” he said before the Flyers one-week break ended and they returned to practice Sunday in Voorhees. “I’m concerned about the New York Islanders. … and having guys improve as we go along here.”
The Isles are the Flyers’ opponent Monday at the Wells Fargo Center, the first of four consecutive home games.
While Tortorella isn’t looking at what the Flyers need to do to get into the playoffs, his players are aware of the standings, aware they are six points from the final wildcard spot.
“This is what you play for,” center Scott Laughton said.
“Every time you win, you look to see how many teams you’ve jumped,” said left winger Kevin Hayes, the only Flyer not to have a break because he competed in Saturday’s All-Star Game in South Florida. “For us to be successful, we have to go game by game. I think a lot of the teams in the league know how hard our team works each and every night.”
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— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) February 5, 2023
Playing four straight home games this week “could set us up pretty nicely,” Hayes said. “… I think it’s huge that we have four home games coming out of the break.”
The Flyers (21-21-9) will face the Islanders (25-22-5), Edmonton (28-18-4), Nashville (24-18-6), and surprising Seattle (29-15-5) during the week.
“Let’s see if we can make a little push here,” Laughton said. “We have to take advantage of it and make our record a little better on home ice.”
The Flyers are just 10-12-2 at the Wells Fargo Center, and 11-9-7 on the road.
“We had a great January; we were defending less, we were getting out of our zone a little bit quicker and playing together,” Laughton said. “Guys are playing for each other and blocking shots; doing all the little things that make you successful.”
Added Laughton: “The next couple weeks are obviously going to tell a lot about what’s going to happen in the future. And you have to try to make a push. We kind of put ourselves behind the eight-ball with that 10-game losing streak, but we’ve clawed back. We have to get on our horse here.”
Silence is golden
Tortorella said he didn’t talk to any of his players during the All-Star break. They needed to get away from him, and vice versa, he said.
“Sometimes it’s healthy, when you’re with one another for so long, you need to get away from one another,” Tortorella said. “I’m sure the players wanted to get away from me. I wanted to get away from the players. I think that’s healthy to get fresh again.”
The break came at a “perfect time for the guys,” Tortorella said, because the Flyers played 14 games in a rugged January and had “a lot of travel.” They were an impressive 8-4-2 in the month, and are on a 10-4-2 run overall.
“I liked our effort,” Tortorella said about the January performance. “I liked some of the things we did as a team. It was probably our most consistent hockey of the year.”
“It was a good month,” Laughton said. “We’ve got to build on it and, like I’ve said before, see where the chips fall.”
With their forecheck effective, the Flyers blanked a very good Jets team in Winnipeg, 4-0, in their final game before the break on Jan. 28. Carter Hart made 40 saves in his first shutout of the season.
“We really liked our game in Winnipeg,” left winger Joel Farabee said. “Hopefully we just keep that going.”
“I think with players, you need results for them to have a belief,” Tortorella said. “And belief is the most important thing in developing an identity.”
Tortorella said it’s “our job as coaches to try to keep us consistent and keep on building.”
“This is a really big homestand,” Farabee said, “if we want to get where we want to go.”
Right winger Owen Tippett got engaged to his girlfriend, Taylor, during the All-Star break. … Farabee expects a physical game against the Islanders. “That’s kind of how it is in the Metro,” he said.