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Flyers’ Star-less Lineup Can Still Be Effective, Tortorella Says

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John Tortorella, Philadelphia Flyers
AP Photo.

The Philadelphia Flyers got balanced scoring in their preseason finale Thursday, a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders.

Five different forwards scored for the Flyers. More of that is needed during the regular season.

“We want to give them some more freedom in trying to make plays,” coach John Tortorella said after practice Friday. “As I said to them, we don’t have a superstar offensive player. Some teams have a couple. Some teams have one. We don’t. We still have to manufacture goals. But we still have some good offensive people here.”

The fact that most of the players are now in their second year under Tortorella and understand his system, the coach said, should make them more comfortable to try different things on offense. Maybe they will be more daring to create things they were reluctant to attempt last season, when the Flyers averaged 2.68-goals per game, 29th in the 32-team NHL.

“This is our second year into it here, and I think we have an understanding on how to defend and what’s expected of the standard of defending,” Tortorella said. “We want to grow our team into not being afraid to try to make a play.”

Tortorella said there is a fine line in knowing when to take a chance offensively and when that chance is too risky and makes the defense vulnerable.

“I do have to police that,” he said.

PHN: Sean Couturier Makes Gains, But Has ‘Another Level’ to Reach

Added Tortorella: “Trying to create offense and trying to make plays, you can’t cross the line and be an idiot about it. That’s what I’m going to have to police.”

Sometimes, he said, he will have to close his eyes and trust his players.

“For them to feel confident and grow offensively, I do think I have to turn away sometimes. If I see something that (makes me think), ‘What’s he doing there?,’ maybe I just to leave it alone. Those are things I have to police myself with and police them with. That’s going to be ongoing.

“But we have to create more offense if we want to try to stay competitive. A lot of the drills (Friday) were based on that, and we’ll see where it goes.”

Tortorella said he will be a slightly different coach than in his first season with the Philadelphia Flyers.

“I have to change as a coach (in) the second year;  some of it is because there’s  more trust, some of it is that I just understand the athlete a little bit better,” he said. “Some of it is on their part because they understand me a little better. That just evolves. I think a coach has to evolve with a team, and the team has evolve with the coach.”

One thing that won’t change, Tortorella said, is “how hard we play.” He likes the intensity his players show, and added  “we have a lot of people who drive the bus here now.”

One of those players is veteran center Sean Couturier, who missed last season because of back surgery. He should help the Flyers in several areas, including the faceoff circle, where they were 30th in the league last season, wining only 45.7% of their draws.

Allison clears waivers

Right winger Wade Allison, who turns 26 next week, cleared waivers Saturday and will report to the AHL’s Phantoms. He has 13 goals in 75 career games with the Flyers.

Breakaways

Rasmus Ristolainen returned to practice Saturday; he missed Thursday’s game with a minor injury. Carter Hart missed practice with an illness. … It’s looking like Cam York and Travis Sanheim will start the season as the Flyers’ top pairing. … York and Sanheim are also expected to quarterback each power-play unit. … The Flyers will not practice Sunday or Monday; they will be back on the ice Tuesday in Voorhees. The Flyers open the season Thursday in Columbus. That same night, the Phillies will host the Braves at 6:07 p.m. if Game 4 of the NLDS is necessary.

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