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Flyers’ Matvei Michkov Benched; Coach Wants Responsible Play

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Matvei Michkov
(Photo: HK Sochi, KHL)

The Philadelphia Flyers’ top prospect, Matvei Michkov, has had a quiet January by his standards. After recovering from his case of pneumonia, the 19-year-old appears to have hit a new low on his 2023-24 campaign.

In HK Sochi’s Jan. 29 KHL matchup with Kunlun Red Star, Michkov racked up a plus-minus rating of minus-4 in just 11:13 of ice time. The Flyers prospect did not play in the third period of that game, which might have sounded alarms for some people.

Fortunately, our good friend, Hockey News Hub, was able to get to the bottom of it. As it turns out, Flyers head coach John Tortorella probably wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Indeed, Michkov was benched against Red Star after having a nightmare game defensively. As Hockey News Hub notes above, Sochi head coach Dmitri Kokorev has stressed the importance of playing responsibly and not bailing on the defensive zone to cheat for offense. Michkov clearly ran afoul of his coach’s wishes, thus getting benched in what ended up as a 4-2 loss for Sochi.

With 14 goals, 19 assists, and 33 points in 38 KHL games, it’s unlikely the Flyers are concerned with the Russian sensation’s offensive production. Instead, as is law with Tortorella, the Flyers would prefer a game that is complimentary of the offense, at least some of the time. Travis Konecny and Joel Farabee are good examples of that, and both players are wingers like Michkov is.

The Flyers are also going to have to wait until 2026 anyway, so letting Michkov go through his growing pains away from the puck now isn’t exactly the worst thing. Plus, North American ice is smaller, so taking passing lanes and being around the puck will naturally become easier.

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