Center Morgan Frost will be benched for a second straight game, and, in a surprise, defenseman Emil Andrae will replace Egor Zamula in the Philadelphia Flyers’ lineup Thursday when they host the Edmonton Oilers.
Zamula, who is plus-3 in his two appearances, had his first career goal in the Flyers’ 2-0 win Tuesday over Vancouver, but the 23-year-old defenseman will go back to the bench. Andrae, a 21-year-old rookie, will take his spot for the 2-1 Flyers. The two have alternated in the first four games.
Coach John Tortorella has said Andrae made some mistakes in the preseason and in his one regular-season game, “but we’re going to try to be as patient as possible. It’s the hardest position to play.”
“It will be special,” said Andrae, who said he will be more calm than he was in his NHL debut last week. “They’re probably the best players in the world, so it’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it.”
Noah Cates said when he faced McDavid and Draisaitl in his rookie season last year, their speed and talent was as good as it looked on TV.
“There was an instance where we were both in the corner,” Cates said about defending McDavid, “and and the next thing you know, he was at the top of the circle before I even got to the bottom of the circle. He’s five steps ahead of you and it’s pretty crazy.”
Cates said Edmonton (1-2) has a deep team.
“You need to be on top of them and need focus for 60 minutes because they’re a team where no lead is safe against them,” said Cates, whose Flyers split a pair of games against the Oilers last season, winning in a home shootout, 2-1, and losing in Edmonton, 4-2. “They’re a team that can strike so quickly, up and down the lineup. They’re a Stanley Cup-caliber team.”
With Frost benched, Scott Laughton will again play center.
Laughton moved from left wing to center on Tuesday, and he responded with an assist, a game-high six shots, and five wins in six faceoffs (83%).
“Laughts can play a lot of positions,” Tortorella said before Thursday’s morning skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees. “That’s one of the greatest things about Scotty. … you can bounce him around” the lineup.
Tortorella said Carter Hart will face the Oilers, and that injured defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen will still be sidelined. Ristolainen has yet to play this season.
Frost, 24, the Philadelphia Flyers’ leading scorer in the preseason, didn’t play to Tortorella’s standards in the first two games and was a healthy scratch in Tuesday’s win over Vancouver.
A year ago, Tortorella was critical of Frost early in the season. Frost responded. Over the final 55 games, he led the Flyers in points (40), even-strength-points (36) and assists (24). He was third on the team in goals (16, including 15 at even-strength) during that span and finished with a career-best 19 goals.
Tortorella said Ristolainen was day to day. “When Risto can play, he’s playing,” Tortorella said, adding the team is trying to get the defenseman in a situation where when he returns, he stays in the lineup and isn’t in and out because of a nagging injury. … In the Flyers’ 2-1 win over the Oilers last season, Kevin Hayes scored in regulation, and Frost and James van Riemsdyk tallied in the shootout. Hart stopped 34 of 35 shots. In that game, McDavid (assist) had five shots and Draisaitl had none.