Flyers’ loss is a reminder that the team is auditioning players for the long term

In the waning moments of regulation Saturday night time towards the Montreal Canadiens, Flyers coach John Tortorella chosen three forwards he wished on the ice at six-on-five to defend the team’s 4-3 lead alongside top-pairing defensemen Ivan Provorov and Tony DeAngelo.

As he seemed to the bench throughout a timeout, the veteran players he could be inclined to name on in an alternate universe had been nowhere to be discovered. 2020 Selke Trophy winner Sean Couturier has not performed this season after present process a second again surgical procedure. Winger Cam Atkinson has additionally been out of the lineup all season long with an undisclosed upper-body harm. Tortorella’s go-to, penalty-killing duo of ahead Scott Laughton and winger Travis Konecny ​​had every sustained current accidents and had been out of the recreation — Laughton (undisclosed) simply moments earlier after taking a arduous hit, and Konecny ​​(higher physique) on Thursday towards the Boston Bruins.

» READ MORE: Flyers dropping streak extends to 6 video games with a shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens

So, Tortorella opted for an unlikely trio of winger Zack MacEwen, ahead Patrick Brown, and heart Noah Cates in the most important second of the recreation. Cates, the Flyers’ fifth-round decide in the 2017 draft, has performed simply 34 profession NHL video games. MacEwen and Brown had been waiver claims in 2021 who performed totally on the fourth line final season and have moved up in the lineup with the Flyers injured up entrance.

With 4 seconds remaining in regulation, Canadiens heart Nick Suzuki despatched a cross-seam cross beneath the stick of Brown to winger Cole Caufield, whose one-timer soared previous goalie Carter Hart. After the Flyers fell, 5-4, in a shootout, Tortorella famous that Cates had his stick out of place and that the onus was finally on Brown to cease that cross. However, Tortorella issued an more and more widespread chorus to keep away from piling on.

“They’re making an attempt,” Tortorella mentioned. “It’s not being lazy or not listening. They’re making an attempt, however they’re simply not able to do it proper now. I’ve bought Catesy on the market, a man that’s in all probability … I do not know what number of … video games he is performed right here. I’m placing him in conditions that I did not even take into consideration doing this 12 months, but it surely is what it is.”

If these three weren’t prepared for the second, who is? Or somewhat, who needs to be? The Flyers are depleted of veteran expertise up entrance, players with expertise who can bear down and shut out video games. To Tortorella, team leaders would make massive performs to calm down the bench in these tension-filled moments. Right now, the Flyers are missing management.

But they nonetheless have a handful of seasoned players whom Tortorella handed over in that essential second, most notably nine-year veteran Kevin Hayes. When requested postgame if he wants extra from his wholesome veterans, Tortorella let his personnel selections converse for themselves.

» READ MORE: Flyers bond in Boston, give Kevin Hayes’ nephew a day he’ll always remember

“You noticed the guys that I had out on the ice at the finish,” Tortorella mentioned. “That sort of spells it out for you. I need not reply that query. You can simply inform by the individuals I’m placing on the ice.”

Before the season started, Tortorella peeled again the layers on his tenure at the helm of the Columbus Blue Jackets in an interview with The Inquirer. He mentioned the significance of “addition by subtraction” in constructing that team from eighth in the Metropolitan Division in 2015-16 to a playoff contender in 4 straight seasons. No one, not even 2010 fourth-overall decide Ryan Johansen, who ended up packing his luggage for the Nashville Predators, was resistant to Tortorella’s technique. The coach added that the weeding-out would probably occur in Philadelphia, too.

After the loss in Montreal, Tortorella invoked that similar message of addition by subtraction, saying that he was approaching the recreation from a big-picture standpoint.

“I’m a little pissed off tonight for them,” Tortorella mentioned. “I’m not mad. We do not get the outcome. But I’m not even that proper now. I’m making an attempt to determine who’s who, and who do we actually need to maintain right here?”

Even if Tortorella and normal supervisor Chuck Fletcher are in lockstep, jettisoning each underperforming participant will not be an choice — or a easy one, at the least — for the Flyers. Right now, a few of their most inconsistent players are additionally their most handsomely paid. Hayes, demoted to the third line on Saturday, has the highest salary-cap hit amongst lively forwards ($7.14 million) with 4 years remaining on his contract. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has been relegated to the third pairing for 11 video games since he returned from harm and has averaged a career-low 16 minutes, 15 seconds of ice time. He’s the second-highest-paid defenseman on the team this season ($5.1 million) with 5 years on his contract.

Regardless, the Flyers’ newest loss served as a reminder of what this season is actually all about — it is an audition to establish who should be a a part of the team’s future. The Tortorella prepare will finally go away the station, and a few players will likely be left behind on the platform.

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