The Flyers didn’t exactly have high expectations from their fans entering the 2022-23 season, and they’ve done little this preseason to assuage the fears that created this broadly present apathy. Thanks to injuries, poor play and underwhelming production, John Tortorella’s roster hasn’t produced through five games.
Thankfully, these games don’t count and the Orange & Black still have time to work things out, even if it appears that the organization is inevitably headed towards a new nadir. A second encounter with the Islanders represents a chance to seize opportunity for improvement (and roster spots) as we count down the final days to dawn of the regular season.
New York is still a tough, physical team, but new head coach Lane Lambert appears to be taking a more aggressive offensive approach with his roster and concentrating on funneling shots from the slot. The Islanders only took a small portion of their even strength shots on goal from the blue line, instead opting to use the preseason to work on cross-crease passing and other fundamentals to improve their scoring.
This group is not especially talented when it comes to putting the puck in the back of the net, so they’re a good chance for Tortorella and co. to improve defensive structure and clearing the slot before they have to face teams like the Rangers or Penguins. Other than that, it’s a pretty standard preseason game. Not too much to examine.
This team is not going to score unless something drastically changes. Some of that is on overall roster talent (the power play remains abysmal and the Flyers haven’t been a top scoring offense in some time) but it’s difficult to tell how much is being caused by injury. Philadelphia is without Sean Couturier, Joel Farabee, Cam Atkinson, Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov. It’s true that they aren’t playing fully assembled rosters yet, but missing three of your top four returning goal scorers and your best overall player doesn’t help things.
Last time out against the Islanders actually saw the Flyers succeed in getting quality chances, but yet again finishing evaded them. Tonight we’ll get another look at Tyson Foerster and Morgan Frost, who both had assists on Tony DeAngelo’s goal against the Isles Sunday. Foerster has yet to score a goal but has threatened once or twice with his wicked shot.
Troy Grosenick is set to start tonight. The former Milwaukee Admiral has had plenty of success in the AHL, but he’s been uneven to start the year compared to his younger and more highly touted counterpart Samuel Ersson. Grosenick is running out of time to assert himself as a legitimate NHL backup option, so tonight is an important game for him.
Three Big Things
- Score. The Flyers have young, talented players who theoretically have the ability to put the puck in the back of the net against weaker competition. Theory has to become reality at some point, especially under John Tortorella, a man whose patience is notably un-saintlike. If this team wants any shot at the one-year turnaround that Chuck Fletcher scrambled to assemble this offseason, they’ll need young contributors to step up and create goals.
- The Flyers have lost the overall scoring chance differential in almost every preseason game. The defense and offense have to be cleaner on the breakout. Simplifying the game and focusing on making the first and second pass cleanly might help; the fundamentals are usually givens, but with a roster this inexperienced that’s not the case, especially when you have young players rushing the game to try and push for a spot on opening night.
- The line combos have the Cates brothers split up. Noah is all but a lock to make the team, but Jackson hasn’t proven he can score when separated from his sibling. It’s a story to follow as we approach final cuts.
Game Day Tunes
“Told him I made it to Hollywood, all it took was a summer to fail... deals they had us sign for years, it made me blind... my whole family cursed.” All separate lines in this song that fit the vibe around this team if you stretch the meaning. Doesn’t hurt that it’s just a flat banger.
Excited to be back everybody. Happy gameday.