Flyers lose; top defense pair still a work in progress

Tony DeAngelo

PHILADELPHIA – If the Flyers are ever going to get this thing straightened out, it’s probably going to start with putting their first defense pairing in order.

Right now it looks like new backliner Tony DeAngelo will be working with Ivan Provorov in an attempt to slow down the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Connor McDavid.

Although it didn’t show up in the statistics of Wednesday night’s 3-1 preseason loss to the Washington Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center, the tandem did have some bright moments.

DeAngelo has the wheels, and the smarts, to bring the best out of the Russian star. Now it’s just a matter of adapting to head coach John Tortorella’s new system and having some chemistry in place by the time the season starts in two weeks.

“Yeah, it was fine,’’ DeAngelo said. “I didn’t really help him much, I didn’t have a very good game, but still good to get reps in and get touches and stuff. Just one game; get going and keep working for the next game.’’

Flyers assistant coach Brad Shaw saw some positives in the twosome’s play.

“I still think they’re learning how to play with one another,’’ Shaw said. “They’re two very different players. They both like the puck. If that becomes a huge issue, maybe you move away from that partnership. But right now I think they give us the best chance to match up with most top units. I’m excited where that pair can go.”

Dylan Strome scored a pair of goals for the Capitals as the Flyers fell to 1-2 in the preseason. Kevin Hayes had the only goal for the Flyers off a nifty pass from Owen Tippett in the second period.

>Fixing those bad second periods

The Flyers were abysmal in second periods last season and Wednesday’s middle frame brought back some bad memories. Philadelphia couldn’t seem to get out of its own way.

Shaw said it’s something the Flyers have to work on.

“Second periods are reflections of good teams,’’ he said. “Teams that feel they’re in the upper echelon, they tend to have good second periods. So if we’re going to become a good team, we have to clean up our second periods. That’s a puck management issue to some extent. That’s recognizing the pulse of the game a little bit, being a little bit more plugged in, recognizing that elements of the game become more important. It is a test for teams that aren’t feeling it that night.’’

>Hayes in crucial spot

In addition to scoring his goal, Hayes looked sharp in this game.

Given Sean Couturier’s injury situation, Hayes will be key as a possible No. 1 center for the time being.

“Center is such an important position,’’ Shaw said. “He (Hayes) is a vital cog. He has to be good for us to have a chance and we’re all aware of that.’’

Hayes is confident he can put last year behind him.

“It’s completely night and day,’’ Hayes said of his current health versus last year. “It feels good playing a game where you’re not coming back to the bench talking to the trainer every shift and having anxiety about your groin. It’s such a relief. I don’t wish that on anyone.’’

>Short shots

Just prior to Hayes’ goal, Wade Allison took a real hard shot but absorbed the hit and came back to help on the scoring play. Given Allison’s recent health history, was there an “uh oh” moment? “Nah,’’ he said. “I’m completely healthy and plan to stay that way all season.’’. . .The Flyers resume action Saturday when they visit Boston.

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About Wayne Fish 2452 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.