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Quick Hits: Practice, Travel Day, Friday Night Fights

February 20, 2024, 12:01 PM ET [137 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Quick Hits: February 20, 2024

1) The Flyers will hold another 11:30 a.m. ET practice at the FTC in Voorhees on Tuesday. Later, the team will depart for Chicago in advance of playing the Blackhawks on Wednesday night (7:30 p.m. ET, TNT).

2) On Monday, the Flyers held an hourlong practice at the FTC. When they took line rushes, the main combinations were as follows (with periodic D pairing shuffles):

74 Owen Tippett - 14 Sean Couturier - 89 Cam Atkinson
86 Joel Farabee - 48 Morgaqn Frost - 11 Travis Konecny
27 Noah Cates - 25 Ryan Poehling - 19 Garnet Hathaway
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 21 Scott Laughton - 62 Olle Lycksell

18 Marc Staal - 6 Travis Sanheim
24 Nick Seeler - 26 Sean Walker
8 Cam York - 9 Jamie Drysdale
5 Egor Zamula

33 Samuel Ersson
40 Cal Petersen

3) Rookie winger Tyson Foerster (lower-body injury) skated before practice and during a portion of the first half of the full-group session. He wore a yellow no-contact jersey while on the ice. Flyers head coach John Tortorella said after practice that Foerster is day-to-day. Tortorella denied that, with only one game prior to the weekend B2B, the team is holding Foerster out of the Chicago game as a precaution. Tortorella said Foerster will play as soon as he's ready to return. That's unlikely to be on Wednesday in Chicago.

4) The only other player who was not on the ice for Monday's practice was injured defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (upper body).

5) Before the second half of practice began on the "Phantoms rink", Tortorella addressed the full group. He loudly gave it to the full team about needing more from everyone, especially on the defensive side of the puck, and challenged several individuals by name. Tortorella said that players' ice time will depend on it.

It was nothing out of the ordinary ("just coaching," as Tortorella put it during his post-practice media availability). The only thing that set it apart was that Tortorella's loudly hollered words were audible and partially distinguishable to the small gathering of spectators and media up on the balcony perch. Beyond that, it was just business as usual on a practice day.

After practice, several Flyers players said that it was basically a reminder that the team has to play to the identity that has been successful enough to currently have the team in an automatic playoff spot in the Metro Division. it's when the Flyers stray from their structure that they get themselves into games such as the one that unfolded on Saturday at MetLife Stadium.

Tortorella said after Saturday's game that Wednesday's game in Chicago -- a team at the bottom of the standings but whom the Flyers can ill-afford to take lightly and expect to meekly accept a thrashing -- "scares the shit out of" him. Following practice on Monday, Tortorella added that it's his job to worry about every game and every opponent.

No doubt, the purpose of hollering at everyone to pay attention to detail and assignments (or else) was to remind all of the players to stay focused. Tuesday's practice is likely to be shorter in duration. There is no morning skate on Wednesday prior to the game at the United Center.

6) Following practice, Sean Walker was a busy man with the media. Jason Myretetus recorded a one-on-one interview with him for Flyers Daily. Several reporters asked about reports of a potential contract extension in lieu of being traded near the deadline as a rental player. I had a hockey-specific question for him.

During the Stadium Series game on Saturday, the Devils came out of the gate playing their weak-side winger very high in the D zone. Jason mentioned it on Monday's Flyers Daily. It's a risky strategy to employ but it seemed to work for a while on Saturday. If it works, the strategy can prevent an opponent from aggressively activating their D in the attack zone and/or create counterattacking chances.

I asked Walker about it after yesterday's practice.

Walker said that it was something the Flyers recognized and adjusted to as the game went along. In the second period, the Flyers generated a whopping 27 shots on goal and, per Natural Stat Trick, 17 scoring chances (with seven of the high-danger variety). The risk inherent in the way the Devils were defending their end zone was that left space in the mid to low slot.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see if Flyers' opponents are similarly aggressive pressuring up high in their D zone. I personally am not a big fan of the tactic because of much real estate you risk giving up in more dangerous areas.

7) I also briefly spoke to Joel Farabee after practice about the scoring mini-slump he's been in of late. He has two points (0g, 2a) over the six games since the All-Star break and has gone nine games without a goal (0g, 3a).

As I wrote in yesterday's blog, it's not too much cause for concern. Farabee has registered 26 shots on net over the last nine games, and just hasn't been able to get any to go in the net for him. Getting himself to the low slot and directly to the paint -- as he's done so well for most of the season -- should take care of the issue.

Farabee agreed.

"I've been getting chances. Last game, I could have had one or two [goals]. Just one of those things. I just have to stay patient and play the right way. As long as I do that, pucks will go in," Farabee said.

8) Last night, the Flyers held a season ticket holder Town Hall. By its nature, the STH forum is not a media event. However, it's important to keep tabs on the tone and morale. Last year's post-deadline Town Hall, by all accounts, was an angry affair with former Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher under siege after the Flyers failed to make any deals (most notably, one with impending unrestricted free agent James van Riemsdyk unable to be moved). This time around, it was a more upbeat atmosphere about the overall organizational direction and the improvement of the product on the ice.

9) The third annual Flyers Alumni "Friday Night Fights" dinner and celebrity speaker event at 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia is on March 8, 2024. Your VIP ticket gets you access to the pre-event open bar reception, hors d’oeuvres, dinner and dessert by Bacio Kitchen and Catering, as well as the fun and laughs provided by our speakers and video segments.

Speakers: Stu Grimson, Matthew Barnaby, Jay Miller, Craig Berube, Dave Brown, Dave Schultz, Andre Dupont.
Hosts/Emcees: Liam Maguire, Bill Clement, Steve Coates.
Special attraction: Tribute segment to the late Glen Cochrane.

Tickets are available online at the 2300 Arena website. All proceeds benefit the charitable programs of the Flyers Alumni Association. For more info, click here.
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