Yeo talks about benching regulars after Flyers’ brutal OT loss

Mike Yeo
PHILADELPHIA – The most dreaded word in hockey lexicon probably isn’t penalized, suspended or injured.
     It’s benched.
     In the National Hockey League, being a healthy scratch is the ultimate humiliation. It usually means a player not only hasn’t been playing well physically but mentally as well,
     Flyers interim head coach Mike Yeo has been at it now for more than three months and apparently his message still isn’t getting through.
     Sunday night was a perfect example. Yeo’s team held a 3-2 lead with less than a minute left in regulation time and was on a POWER PLAY. And the Flyers still gave up a shorthanded goal with 42.1 seconds left to play and another at 2:10 of overtime, resulting in a 4-3 loss to the lowly Montreal Canadiens at the Wells Fargo Center,
      After this debacle, a dejected Yeo entered the lower press room at WFC and, after surveying the most recent wreckage, finally made it known he would go to the “benched’’ option if his message doesn’t start getting through.
      In all honesty, Yeo really hasn’t had that option since he took over because the Flyers have had an injury list straight out of a M*A*S*H unit But with more personnel getting back on skates, some veterans could find themselves in the press box.
       “We’re going to have to keep finding ways to understand that you can play the way you want to play or you can play winning hockey,’’ Yeo said during the postgame press briefing. “There were things you could look at. The defensive game is getting better – blah, blah, blah. That’s nice. But that’s what you’re supposed to do, There’s a way to play with the puck where you’re not turning it over,’’
       A benching is a last resort but Yeo sounds like he’s ready to take that step.
       “Take ice time away,’’ Yeo began. “(Put) guys on the fourth line. Scratch guys if we have to. I don’t even know if we have enough to call guys up. These are veteran players we’re going to have to do it to, too. Got to get the job done.’’
       Indeed. When there’s little or not accountability, you wind up with a mess like Sunday night.
      Cam Atkinson said the players have been made aware of their coach’s intentions.
      “I think everyone is aware of that,’’ Atkinson said. “We’ve gotten some guys back from injury. I think you have to hold people accountable, plain and simple, no matter who you are and where you are in the lineup – older guy, younger guy. If it needs to be done, it needs to be done.’’
    As mentioned, the Flyers were leading 3-2 and on a power play with less than a minute to play when they gave up a tying goal to Rem Pitlick with 42.1 seconds left in regulation time, than surrendered another to Cole Caufield at 2:10 of overtime.
    Atkinson’s goal at 2:41 of the third period had given the Flyers the lead they took into the final minute.
     Before that, Claude Giroux’s goal at 7:11 of the second period gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead. Giroux gathered the rebound of a Morgan Frost shot, swept past goaltender Sam Montembeault and put the puck in the net for NHL career point No. 900 in his 999th game as a Flyer.
    Later, Giroux received a loud ovation when the scoreboard noted his achievement.
    After the game, there was little reason to celebrate the milestone,
    “It (another collapse) just can’t happen,’’ Giroux said. “I wish I had the answer for you When you’re on the power play and there’s not a lot of time left, you just got to keep the puck and make sure you’re responsible with the puck. I mean they made a nice play (on the tying goal) but that’s still on us,’’
Added Carter Hart: “You just have to bear down. Pretty simple. There are 60 minutes in a hockey game and you have to play every single minute. It’s just being engaged and being ready.’’
   Giroux put the Flyers in front with his goal but the edge didn’t last long.
    Nick Suzuki cleaned up a rebound in front of Hart just 1:07 later to even the 2-2.
    The Flyers jumped off to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Kevin Hayes at 7:00 of the first. Hayes finished off a nice cross-slot pass from Travis Sanheim. Suzuki countered at 2:18 of the second on a power play. His shot from the top of the right circle nicked off Hart’s shoulder and into the net.
  >No update on Laughton
      Scott Laughton suffered a concussion in Thursday night’s game at Florida and continues to remain out of action.
      Interim head coach Mike Yeo said he had not spoken to the centerman on Sunday.
     “I know yesterday (Saturday) he was feeling a little bit better,’’ Yeo said. “But obviously he’s still not feeling very well. I don’t have a timeline; it’s something you want to be careful with. We’ll proceed cautiously with that.’’
      >Shuffling lines
      The coach decided to make some significant changes with his lines for the Montreal game.
   Frost, normally a center, was moved to left wing on a line with Giroux at center and Travis Konecny at right wing. Derick Brassard centered a line with Farabee and Atkinson. Hayes played the middle with Gerry Mayhew and James van Riemsdyk and Oskar Lindblom moved down to the fourth line with Patrick Brown and Zack MacEwen.
      >Giroux’s future
       There has been a month of non-stop rumors about possible Giroux trades. The deadline is just a week away.
       Many assume Giroux will waive his no-move clause and allow a trade to a Stanley Cup contender. But Giroux left the door open a crack he just might be interested in staying in Philadelphia.
“I didn’t know I would be put in this position, it’s probably the worst year since I’ve been here,’’ Giroux said. “It’s been a tough year. It’s not in a position I wanted to be in. There’s still some meetings and some things to talk about with management and see what the game plan is. Not just for this year but for the future.’’
`     >York’s one-timers
      Rookie defenseman Cam York saw some time on the Flyers’ first power-play unit during the Florida-Carolina road trip and Yeo likes the way his pointman gets the puck on net in quick fashion.
      “(Compared to) his first stint here, he seems to be taking the one-timer a little more often,’’ Yeo said. “We’ve all watched dangerous power plays and just how important of a weapon taking one-time shots is.’’
        Yeo put some thought into pulling usual No. 1 pointman Ivan Provorov off the top PP unit.
       “I was real impressed with Ivan’s game last game,’’ Yeo said. “We’ll keep it in the back of our mind. When things aren’t going well, we have to be open to making changes. I think that goes for everybody, whether it’s forwards or defensemen. Ivan has had success on the power play for us at different times.”
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About Wayne Fish 2418 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.