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Tortorella preparing for Matvei Michkov with current system

Photo Credit: Heather Barry

It is a very dead horse at this point, but we continue to beat it. The Philadelphia Flyers are actually playing good hockey this season and it hasn’t really stopped with a quarter of the season come and gone. The results aren’t there, but the process — oh, the process — is certainly enough to think about and feel good.

This has been the largest development through the beginning of this season and it continues to shock us. Even head coach John Tortorella recognizes how much the plan has changed and how confident he is to have players making the jump into a different kind of play.

“We’re trying to play a much more aggressive style, and with risk in it, to create offense,” Tortorella said before Thursday’s game. “Although we have struggled here as of late, I do think through the first quarter of the season, that has been one of the biggest improvements with our team — is transition offense, is stretching, is making long passes, leaving the zone earlier. All the things we’ve talked about. We’re staying with that.”

And it’s so noticeable. The Flyers don’t look like a team that doesn’t belong to hang with the big dogs and have to go a completely different route to try and squeeze some points out of a game. They can absolutely hang with any team right now, and they are doing that while preparing for a brighter future.

The second after Flyers general manager Danny Briere said Matvei Michkov’s name at the 2023 NHL Draft, it all became about how this team will be shaped to welcome him in with open arms in 2026. Every transaction has an ounce of The Michkov Plan in it. From a drop to a full gallon, there is some aspect of how it affects the future of this team.

Tortorella knows that and in his own way, is implementing this structure and mentality so that Michkov has the easiest transition possible into an offense-first team.

“Sometimes in my mind, you get to the future,” he said, “moving away a couple years from now, when The Mad Russian comes over here. And you start bringing in some free agents when the time is right, with some more offensive skill. I want that to fall into place when they come in. I want them to stay with this style.”

The Mad Russian is a very good nickname and we have to know if it is just something Tortorella came up with off the cuff, or they are calling him that internally.

Anyway, Tortorella is really preparing for the Flyers to be a good hockey team. He is planting the roots and doing the hard work with a less flashy squad so that when Philadelphia becomes the hot destination with Michkov, Cutter Gauthier, some unnamed prize free agent, and all the other developed prospects on the roster, they can hit the ground running.

This is the long-term planning that we love to see and makes us just so cautiously optimistic about the future.

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