Perhaps referencing a line or two from the old “Win one for the Gipper” speech of sports movie lore, Flyers head coach Mike Yeo suggested his team take a “Win one for Giroux” approach for Thursday night’s game against Nashville.
Speaking after Tuesday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, New Jersey, Yeo sort of implored the Flyers to use Giroux’s 1,000th game as a rallying cry.
And why not? There isn’t much else to play for and the team is coming off one of its most disturbing losses of the season – a 4-3 overtime debacle defeat by a last-place Montreal squad on Sunday night.
Yeo, who sort of walked back some post-game comments he made regarding personnel, said the Flyers might want to celebrate Giroux’s milestone with a better outcome. After all, there’s the very real possibility the captain could be an ex-Flyer soon if he waives his no-move clause and heads elsewhere before Monday’s NHL trade deadline.
“You feel for ‘G’, what he’s going through,’’ Yeo said. “Let’s make this special for G. You know that’s a real amazing accomplishment, to play a thousand games with one organization, to play them the way that he did. What he’s added to the organization, let’s celebrate with a great game. Bring a great attitude. Be excited for it.’’
The Flyers are planning a pre-game tribute to Giroux and that should be well received by those in attendance at the Wells Fargo Center.
“It’s obviously a special accomplishment,’’ longtime Giroux teammate James van Riemsdyk said. “You look back through the history of the league and you see how few guys get to that point. To do it with one team is even more special. It’s got to be a pretty small crowd. It just speaks to the kind of career he’s had and it will definitely be a special moment for him and his family, I’m sure.’’
>York promoted to top defense pairing
Rookie Cam York was promoted to a defense pairing with Ivan Provorov at Tuesday’s practice. It looks like York will be seeing more playing time against the Predators’ top players for this encounter.
York did see some top pairing minutes with Justin Braun back in January but that was when the Flyers defense was depleted by COVID-19 and injuries.
York, a lefty shooter, has been playing on the right side with another lefty, Keith Yandle. So playing on the right side with Provorov is not a big deal.
But it is a pretty big deal he will get to play with the team’s No. 1 backliner.
“I think just getting used to Provy’s style will be a bit of an adjustment,’’ he said. “Other than that there shouldn’t be too many issues. It (the right side) has been a little bit difficult. I have not played there throughout my career. It’s a learning experience for sure. But in the O-zone I prefer it, it’s easier.’’
The Flyers recently tried York on the first power play and he actually helped produce a Travis Konecny goal with the man advantage.
Provorov really hasn’t found a steady partner since the retirement of Matt Niskanen two years ago. Ryan Ellis was supposed to fill that role but after playing four games, he’s been injured for the remainder of the season.
“There’s no question ‘Yorkie’ can take on a little bit more,’’ Yeo said. “There’s a little bit more challenge on the right side. It’s certainly an adjustment because he doesn’t have a lot of experience doing that. It’s certainly more challenging. I’m seen him do it (handle pressure, etc.) on the left side. I believe he’s capable and there’s no other way than to throw him in there.’’
>Second thoughts on Montreal game
Yeo came out with some pretty strong comments after the Flyers blew a 3-2 lead in the final minute of the Canadiens game and lost in overtime.
The coach went so far as to say he might even bench a veteran regular if his team continued to make the same mistakes.
“It was a stupid thing to say without taking the time to look at the game,’’ Yeo said. “I came back and looked at the game yesterday. When I watched the game, the first two periods weren’t that bad. Especially considering we played three games in four days. The one thing I give the guys credit for, they’re still playing hard.’’
Even so, coming down the home stretch of this season, Yeo doesn’t want to see any more of these last-minute meltdowns.
“That was a new low point,’’ Yeo said. “It was a tough one. Extremely tough. We have to handle adversity. I have to even point to myself for a little bit of that. Obviously we’re dealing with a lot of frustration. This has been real, real tough on everybody. But we have to continue to make sure we stick together.’’
Throughout these dismal three months, Yeo generally hasn’t faulted the effort. It’s more about the execution.
“One thing you can say about this group is that they have responded,’’ Yeo said. “Whether it’s been a real tough game and the way they’ve bounced back or the way they’ve been challenged and then responded. We just have to move forward from that one.’’