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Flyers Notebook: John Tortorella says Flyers second period was an ’embarrassment’

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PHILADELPHIA — The Flyers’ playoff run misfiring here and there, coach John Tortorella struck a Monday morning deal with his players to keep them “as fresh as we can be as we go through the next couple weeks here.”

Before the end of the night Tortorella was fuming even though the Flyers escaped with a point. Morgan Frost tied the game with the Islanders with 9.6 seconds left in regulation only to turn the puck over in the extra session, allowing Brock Nelson to net the winner for a 4-3 triumph. The point gives the Flyers 83 points, while the Islanders left with two points and 79 on the season. They have played two games less than the Flyers.

After the game Tortorella called the Flyers “soft” while exclaiming that “only one person played” … newly added goalie Ivan Fedotov.

“Not the whole game and not the whole group,” Tortorella said of the soft play. “There are certain people that they don’t have a clue how to play. Or they just don’t have it in them to play in these types of situations. And this is why I’m glad we’re playing them, because we have to figure things out as far as what we’re going to become as a team. That was embarrassing in the second period to be in a Philadelphia Flyer uniform. The way we played, embarrassing. High marks as far as how we came back in the third … some guys.”

The players probably won’t get the deal they had in the meeting with Tortorella that included slight modifications in practices and in how time is spent away from the ice in the push to reach the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

“If you don’t have enough (guys) to play in these kind of games,” Tortorella said, “rest doesn’t do you any good.”

The Flyers did get the first goal for a change as they took the early lead on a wrister by Noah Gates. But starting goalie Sam Ersson gave up two goals before the end of the first period, and that led to the second period NHL debut of Fedotov, who stopped 19 shots.

“It just didn’t look right for Ers,” Tortorella said. “I’m totally impressed. I put (Fedotov) in a hell of a spot. And he’s the only damn player who played in the second period.”

There were no updates on Flyers captain Sean Couturier, who exited in the first period after being checked into the boards.

Make no mistake, Tortorella enjoys the pressure facing the Flyers (36-29-11, 83 points). They moved ahead of the Capitals for the third automatic playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division and the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference. The Capitals have played three less games, however. And hot on the trail entering Monday were the Red Wings (80 points) and others.

“Our players know where we’re at,” Tortorella said. “We know we need to find a way to get some results here. They know how that first goal is important. We just talked about it in a meeting. I don’t believe in insulting players by just speaking to pound my chest and say the right things. They know. And I think that’s part of allowing them to grow. I don’t think we need to hold hands yet. We know exactly where we’re at. We’re in a battle here and it doesn’t need to be discussed. And I’m not going to hold hands.”

Of particular concern to Tortorella and his staff is the excessive ice time they’ve thrown at Ersson after losing starter Carter Hart. On Jan. 23, Hart took a leave of absence to deal with what became a charge of sexual assault in an event that occurred in June of 2018. Four other former then-teammates from Canada’s World Junior Hockey Tournament team also were charged.

The good news there is defenseman Jamie Drysdale returned from a shoulder injury Monday and worked on the power play, freeing Cam York from some of those extra minutes. Drysdale sat out 16 games.

“It’s really good to be back,” said Drysdale, who missed five weeks of action. “I feel real good right now, in a good spot. Been watching a lot of hockey. It’s just nice the day is here.”

Tortorella largely kept private what was discussed at the morning meeting. But he went out of his way to say he wanted input from players and that the get together was “kind of a collaboration.” He also remarked about how his guys knew they had to tough it out over the last seven games. Nobody was going to hold anybody’s hand to get them through this rough and exciting stretch of hockey.

“Sometimes it has to be we’ve just got to get through it,” Tortorella said. “Really good time to see and evaluate how guys do this. This is why I’m glad we’re here. We’re getting a chance to see this stuff happen. I’m anxious to see how we get through it.”

York, 23, is a key part of the young Flyers nucleus that is emerging from all the playoff-less seasons. Slowly but surely, Travis Konecny, Owen Tippett, Tyson Foerster, Morgan Frost and Joel Farabee, among others, are beginning to realize how good they can be.

“I think all of us being similar in age definitely helps us come together,” Tippett said. “Being able to relate to each other and having more in common. But our room, no matter the age, we’ve got a really good room this year. Everyone is one, and we just love being around each other. Our team chemistry is pretty special. We trust in one another. We’ve spent a lot of time together and that stuff kind of seems like nothing but it goes a long way when you’re on the ice playing for guys next to you.”

 

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