Now that they’re 14 games into the Mike Yeo regime, perhaps the Flyers are starting to catch on to what the coach is trying to build.
Don’t look at the numbers: 0-2 to start, then 5-0-2, then 0-3-2. He says he saw the same sort of start when he took over the coaching reins from Ken Hitchcock with the St. Louis Blues back in 2017. That team lost five in a row, then went on a 22-8-2 run to make the playoffs.
If you factor in all the injuries and players lost to COVID, it’s difficult to say if Yeo’s system has really gained any traction just yet.
There’s still more than half a season to go, which is plenty of time to pull off a rerun of 2017 if everything falls into place.
The key is to have players who don’t get hampered by frustration.
“You can’t get frustrated, it’s not the path you want to go down,’’ Cam Atkinson said via media Zoom call after Monday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center. “Unfortunately, the situation that we’re in, there just has to be that next-man-up mentality. No matter who is in our lineup, everyone has to do the job, step up. We just have to keep getting better and pushing each other.’’
Philadelphia is hoping to get some players back in the lineup for Tuesday night’s home game against Carolina. Defenseman Travis Sanheim was cleared from the COVID list and made an abbreviated appearance at Monday’s practice. Yeo was hoping to get good news from other players such as Claude Giroux by the end of the day.
As for the progress the team is making in grasping Yeo’s system, Atkinson sounded optimistic.
“I think we’re there,’’ he said. “The unfortunate part of the situation is that before Christmas break our forward lines lost a couple players. We were playing the right way and then with the COVID situation, guys got sick, a couple guys got hurt. You have other guys coming into the lineup trying to learn the system. It’s not an excuse but you never know what’s going to happen on a day-to-day basis. I think we’ve shown signs of playing the right way but then it’s always something bad happens. We take one step forward, then two steps back.’’
In addition to Giroux and Sanheim, there’s a possibility Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny could be back Tuesday as well.
Defenseman Justin Braun was just added to the COVID list. This is his second time. He was out for more than a week in February, 2021.
“We’re waiting on a couple results and then we’ll see if they are available,’’ Yeo said.
The coach said the building process continues.
“It’s my job to not get frustrated,’’ Yeo said. “To not let the team get frustrated but it’s not easy because we did feel like we were making some progress as far as building the game we want to play. Individual players were having some success and the team was seeing some results.’’
Yeo is making do with what he has, knowing his key players will be back in the mix.
“There were definitely some systems breakdowns (in the 3-2 overtime loss to the Sharks) on Saturday,’’ the coach said. “Reads off the rush, that really hurt us. Our play without the puck is good at certain times and at certain time’s it’s not. I don’t think those things are related to who we have in and out of the lineup. . .whether you’re an American Hockey League call up or a seasoned NHL veteran, you should be able to do those things.’’
>Moran out for season
Former first-round draft pick Sam Morin has been declared all but out for remainder of the season. He’s not skating right now. Still trying to recover from knee surgery.
James van Riemsdyk and his wife, Lauren, welcomed their second child, a boy (Liam) so he was not at practice but is expected to play against the Hurricanes. . .Patrick Brown is out with a lower-body injury. . .Derick Brassard remains status quo, which is day-to-day. . .Sean Couturier still hasn’t made progress in his injury recovery and Yeo said he is not scheduled to play during any of this week’s three games. “He didn’t feel real good today,’’ Yeo said. “There’s been days when he’s started to feel good, others where it hasn’t been so good. He’s a guy who adds so much to our lineup. He’s a guy we miss right now.’’