UNIONDALE, N.Y. – When Tyler Pitlick was benched by Alain Vigneault a couple games back, he didn’t wait for the Flyers coach to explain the move.
He went right to the source.
Pitlick, who returned to the lineup for Sunday night’s Flyers-Islanders game due to Scott Laughton’s injury (a broken finger which will keep him out a month), thought he had been playing well. But Vigneault wanted to get a look at veteran Chris Stewart, so Pitlick was the odd man out.
While he understood the logic of that thinking, Pitlick still wanted to make sure the coach and player were still on the same page.
“I’m pretty proactive,’’ Pitlick said before the game at Nassau Coliseum. “I went to them (the coaching staff) to see what’s going on.
“They said you’ve been playing good, we’re just looking at some different looks. We’ve been winning some games and it is what it is. Be patient, you will be back in soon, be ready when the time comes. That’s what I did and I’m ready to go.’’
Did that explanation work for Pitlick?
“I want to play every game,’’ he said. “But yes, I understood. I kept a positive attitude.’’
It probably helps that Vigneault likes Pitlick’s work.
“I think he likes my game,’’ Pitlick said. “I think he’s happy with me. I think he wants me to keep progressing. He’s very honest. I appreciate that.’’
Pitlick’s game is similar to Laughton’s, so that should help the situation.
“Yeah, you know it sucks what happened to him (Laughton),’’ Pitlick said. “Hopefully he can get back as soon as possible, we need him in the lineup.
“It gets me back in the lineup, not that I ever want to see a player go down. I love Scotty, we need him back. But I’m excited to be back in the lineup. I can do a lot of things he does. We’re similar players. Play the game hard, PK, do all those things. I should be able to step in and do fine.’’
Vigneault thinks Pitlick can fill in for some of what Laughton does.
The coach put Pitlick on the right side with Kevin Hayes at center and Joel Farabee on the left side for this game.
“I see him (Pitlick) bringing sort of the same elements,’’ Vigneault said. “Five-on-five, penalty killing. . .so hopefully it’s an easy transition.
“Sometimes players come out of the lineup not because their play has been poor. It’s just a matter of wanting to get Stewart in. I just wanted Stewart in because Vegas played with a little more bite.’’
>Morin in, Hagg out
Vigneault has been wanting to get Sam Morin into the lineup and Sunday night the towering defenseman made his season debut.
Some of the decision had to do with back-to-back games (the Flyers beat Columbus, 7-4, on Saturday night) and some of it had to do with the Islanders playing a rather rowdy style.
“For the first nine game I stuck with the same six ‘D’s,’’ Vigneault said. “The same pairs. But with back-to-back and three games in four nights (the Flyers play in Pittsburgh on Tuesday), they have a little more grit, a little more bite.
“Probably a good time to put him in.’’
Morin has been trying to make practices like games – blocking shots, making some hits.
In fact, he’s gotten the attention of a number of teammates in those sessions.
“The guys are like, ‘Can you slow down a little bit?’ I’m like, ‘Sorry man, I need to be ready!’ That’s why it’s important to have a good first shift.
“I’m excited. It’s been almost a month (since the end of training camp). They (the Isles) are a big team, a big forecheck team. I’m not looking for that (physical confrontation) but what’s going to happen is going to happen.’’