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Flyers’ Tortorella Playing 7 D to Accommodate Owen Tippett

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Owen Tippett, Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers right winger Owen Tippett gets past Detroit's Adam Erne on Sunday. The Flyers won, 3-1, to snap a four-game skid. Photo: AP.

How far has right winger Owen Tippett come since he was acquired from Florida in the Claude Giroux deal last year?

Well, consider this: Philadelphia Flyers coach John Tortorella has used seven defensemen and 11 forwards in the last two games because he wanted Tippett to get more playing time.

Most teams, of course, use six defensemen and 12 forwards.

With just 11 forwards, Tippett has played a career-high 27:40 and 24:09 in the last two games, respectively.

After the Flyers’ 3-1 win over visiting Detroit on Sunday, Tortorella said Tippett is playing freely. “I think he feels he can take on people one on one, as he did tonight.” Tortorella said.

Tippett, 24, who recently got engaged, displayed his speed and shook free for six shot attempts. He also killed penalties and blocked three shots in 24:09 of action. On offense, he is challenging defenders and getting loose for many quality shots.

The Ontario native didn’t score Sunday, but he was one of the Flyers’ best players. Again. He has three goals over his last five games.

Not many ‘blips’ in play

“I just think he feels that good about himself, and it’s encouraging,” Tortorella said. “I went with 7 D again because I want to give him more ice time and let him keep going. As the season has gone on, he’s flattened out as far as inconsistency. It’s not big blips. He’s flattened out (his weaknesses). He’s becoming a player.”

The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Tippett has set career highs in goals (18) and points (33) with 19 games remaining. He had a combined 10 goals and 21 points with Florida and the Flyers last season.

This year has been his breakout, making him arguably the Philadelphia Flyers’ best story of the season, though Noah Cates’ development is also noteworthy, along with Travis Konecny taking his game to another level.

Tortorella said he plans to go with seven defensemen again on Tuesday in Tampa. That will give Tippett more ice time.

“I feel comfortable with it now because Tip’s going,” the veteran coach said.

He is playing like Florida projected when it drafted him in the first round (No. 10 overall) in 2017.

Breakaways

Cates scored his fifth game-winning goal, the most among NHL rookies. …¬† Tanner Laczynski centered the fourth line Sunday in his first game in three months. “Felt good just to be out there again,” said Laczynski, who was sidelined by a lower-body injury. “A little tired right now, but I’ve got a day off to recover.” … The Flyers are tied for second in the NHL with 11 shorthanded goals, their most since 2010-11; they are 7-3 when they score at least one shorty. … Rasmus Ristolainen has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) over his last 19 games. That’s the most by a Flyers defenseman in that span. … Cam York leads the Flyers with a plus-7 rating, followed by Cates at plus-6. On the flip side, Tony DeAngelo is minus-28.

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