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Quick Hits & Musings: Week Ahead, Flyers Daily, Injury Updates, Torts

November 28, 2022, 5:19 PM ET [248 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Quick Hits: November 28, 2022

1) On the weekly "Mondays with Meltzer" edition of Jason Myrtetus' Flyers Daily podcast on the Flyers Broadcast Network, Jason and I delved into the team's current 10-game winless streak from various angles. The bottom line, though, is that rings hollow trying to dissect individual games when big picture is one of trying not to get numb to losing. What can a coach in John Tortorella's situation do from a practical standpoint? To listen, click here.

2) The Flyers are home all this week, and do not have any 3-in-4 or back-to-back games to deal with. However, they face a string of tough opponents, and most of them are currently playing well. Here's a day-by-day look at the schedule over the next week:

Mon Nov 28: Practice, FTC in Voorhees (11 a.m. ET)
Tue Nov. 29: Flyers vs. Islanders at WFC (7:00 p.m. ET)
Wed Nov. 30: Practice, FTC in Voorhees (noon)
Thu Dec. 1: Flyers vs Lightning at WFC (7:00 p.m. ET) -- 80s Throwback Thursday
Fri Dec. 2: Practice, FTC in Voorhees (noon)
Sat Dec. 3: Flyers vs. Devils at WFC (7:00 p.m. ET)
Sun Dec. 4: Practice, FTC in Voorhees (noon)
Mon Dec. 5: Flyers vs. Avalanche at WFC (7:00 p.m. ET)

3) Injury update: The Flyers have placed Travis Konecny (right hand injury) on injured reserve, backdated to when he sustained the injury in Boston on Nov. 17. His actual return timetable remains the same; approximately two weeks from the time of the injury. The Flyers have recalled defenseman Egor Zamula from the Phantoms.

4) The hobbling Anthony DeAngelo did not participate in Monday's practice in Voorhees. Ramus Ristolainen was paired with Ivan Provorov, while Zamula was with Nick Seeler. DeAngelo's immediate availability this week for game action is unclear as of writing; however, if he can play, he will.

The Flyers' line combinations at practice were as follows:

86 Joel Farabee - 23 Lukas Sedlak - 13 Kevin Hayes
74 Owen Tippett - 48 Morgan Frost - 20 Kieffer Bellows
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 49 Noah Cates - 17 Zack MacEwen
71 Max Willman - 58 Tanner Laczynski - 38 Patrick Brown

9 Ivan Provorov - 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Travis Sanheim - 61 Justin Braun
54 Egor Zamula - 24 Nick Seeler

79 Carter Hart
32 Felix Sandström

5) There was some good news at practice on Tuesday, as the injury rehabbing Cam Atkinson and Scott Laughton took reps with the team. They skated on the "fifth line" with healthy forward Jackson Cates.

Additionally, both James van Riemsdyk (right index finger surgery) and Konecny did a rehab skating session before practice.

6) I miss the old telestrator segments that Gary Dornhoefer did during tv broadcasts. What Dorny did so expertly was to show that goals for/against are rarely to the sole credit/blame of a single player. There's almost always a sequence of events where more subtle plays are made successfully and/or details are missed defensively. I learned a lot from Dorny's segments (apart from his signature "stop it right there!" and "OK, let 'er go" instructions to the production team) and felt like a more educated hockey observer from years of watching them.

Nowadays, especially, I think there's too much tendency to assign individual credit or blame.

For example, during the pregame portion of the Flyers vs. Penguins game on Friday, there was a segment showing the Washington Capitals' tying goal late in the third period of Wednesday's game. Unfortunately, this sequence was a PRIME example of things Dorny used to telestrate: there were opportunities to kill the play in the neutral zone, on the entry attempt, in the D-zone and then to take away the pass across to goal scorer Sonny Milano.

Either due to simply being beaten by the offensive player or being out of position for coverage, the sequence ended in a goal against. Credit the Caps for their execution, too, although they were within a whisker of being offside.

When TNT showed the sequence, rather than educating viewers about how the entire sequence unfolded, they looked for a single player to blame, and focused on poor Noah Cates (who wasn't even on the ice at the time, but they misidentified in the studio).

I also thought that NBC Sports Philly could have done much better on their intermission show breakdown of the Zach Parise power play goal late in the second period of Saturday's game. Al Morganti blasted Morgan Frost ("Strike one! Strike two! Strike three!) to the exclusion of everything else that happened. That gave a distorted picture of how things unfolded.

The fateful sequence started when Rasmus Ristolainen fired the puck and hit Frost in the backside. Frost then whiffed on an attempted clear. On a second effort, he made a diving attempt. Frost sent the puck up the middle; not a wise choice, but he had Patrick Brown right there and no Islanders nearby. Brown watched the puck go by him until it was intercepted. Even then, there was a chance to defend and then a final one-on-one opportunity for Felix Sandström to make a save. None of it was executed. It was a collective failure, not a "blame THIS guy" situation.

7) When John Tortorella no-showed a postgame media availability in Columbus on Nov. 10, he deservedly took criticism for it after he snapped "None of your business" when asked for the reason by Sam Carchidi prior to the Ottawa game two days later. A simple "It was a team/personal matter, and I have no further comment" or some such response would have been sufficient. Torts stresses accountability and professionalism, and that needs to be a two-way street. There may be rare extenuating circumstances in which a head coach might delegate postgame media availability to an assistant coach, but a generic explanation is in order.

On the flip side, I had absolutely zero problem with how Tortorella handled the postgame media availability after Saturday's loss to the Islanders in Elmont. He talked plenty about the game but wanted the take-away to be that he thought the team played very well for two periods and that he wasn't about to throw anyone under the bus under the circumstances of a 10th straight loss. He wasn't snide about it, either. He simply did not want to list reasons -- which were pretty self-evident, anyway -- as to how things got away.

The Islanders have more talent and depth, the Flyers can ill-afford lapses like the 23-second span where the game went from a 2-2 tie to a 4-2 deficit, and Philly's struggling power play and penalty kill really hurt them again. It didn't require a professional hockey coach to lay it out in that situation.

Moreover, Tortorella has never minded deflecting heat from his team to himself when he thinks that might help. But he wasn't antagonistic about it (which he can be at times). I really thought it was much ado about nothing in this instance.

8) How rare are the circumstances under which a coach can justifiably bypass a postgame media availability? It's a case-by-case, I would say, but illness, family emergency, bereavement, etc., would be obvious situations.

Even then, it's still up to the person's discretion. On the day that Bill Barber's beloved wife Jenny passed away, he nevertheless forced himself to coach the Flyers' game against the Minnesota Wild and even spoke afterwards.

That was the one of the hardest and most anguishing days of the man's life -- the hockey game itself was meaningless by comparison -- and no one would blamed him for not coaching (and certainly for not doing media) that day. It had been Jenny's vehement wish that Bill just keep on coaching. Jenny was a hockey wife, through and through, and the game day routine at home was ingrained in the fabric of the family life. Thus, he coached to honor her on a deeply personal level. It was truly what she wanted.

To this day, I can't even imagine how Bill was able to hold himself together enough to do that. I couldn't do it if I were in his place. I'd be a mess, and a detriment to the task of trying to keep a team focused on the immediate task of winning a game.

At any rate, ever since then, I've always regarded Bill Barber's decisions that day -- as well as Al Morganti balancing professional obligations as a beat writer and personal friendships with Pelle Lindbergh and his fiancee after Lindbergh's fatal car crash -- as the gold standard for being a professional under the hardest of circumstances.
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