Tortorella welcomes schedule gap to get Flyers well

John Tortorella

Usually the Flyers would start their regular season a few days after the preseason schedule came to an end.

This year, following Tuesday night’s exhibition slate finale against the New York Islanders, the Flyers  have an eight-day gap until the real stuff gets underway on Oct. 13 against the Devils.

One would think waiting around that long might allow some staleness to creep in.

Not so, says Flyers head coach John Tortorella.

With so many regulars nursing injuries, he welcomes the time to get everybody back up to speed.

Goaltender Carter Hart said the other day he would be ready for opening night but Tortorella tapped the brakes on that notion on Tuesday.

Cam Atkinson is also dealing with an injury but Tortorella sounded more optimistic with him.

Overall, the Flyers could use the time to practice Tortorella’s system and have most of their personnel patched up in time for New Jersey.

“We want to put the effort in tonight,’’ Tortorella said after a morning skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J. “But the way it’s gone here, I just want to make sure we get away from any more nicks.

“We’re trying to get healthy with some of the guys. We just don’t need any more (injuries) right now.’’

As for Hart, Tortorella wants to see how things go in practice over the next week before making any decisions.

“I don’t know where it sits,’’ the coach said. “We still have seven or eight days prior to that (the opener). It’s hard for me to make a judgment. He practiced well today. We’ll see how the week goes and then we’ll go from there.’’

In a year where such a big gap didn’t exist, Tortorella might be able to finalize his lines in the last one or two preseason games. Such is not the case with this situation.

“I haven’t had this many days (in the past),’’ Tortorella said. “But the situation we’re in right now, with some guys banged up a little bit, we welcome it. I’ve kind of changed my thinking – I felt I had some more conditioning to do but I’ve kind of backed off that.

“I haven’t had many exhibition seasons with back-to-back (games). So that’s kind of changed a little bit. You move around, you move the pieces as you go through. But the amount of days we have off, I welcome that right now. I wouldn’t if we were healthy because they want to play.’’

In some ways, Tortorella would like to have gone into the regular-season opener with a finalized lineup having seen recent game action.

“Like I told (general manager) Chuck (Fletcher), would I have like to use these (last) two games to look at our lineup? Sure,’’ Tortorella said. “Can’t. So it gives the kids even more of a look.

And, with a number of regulars out, Tortorella has had an opportunity to get a good look at some of his aforementioned younger players, such as brothers Jackson and Noah Cates, to see if they are NHL-ready.

“We’re kind of putting them through a glimpse of a National Hockey League schedule,’’ the coach said. “It’s going to get shorter (down time) than this. That’s one of the big questions you have with kids. So give them as long a look as possible.’’

>Short shots

The Flyers will have off-ice conditioning work on Wednesday but will not go on the ice. . .Philadelphia assigned forward Ryan Fitzgerald to the Phantoms on Tuesday, reducing the roster to 44 players. Tortorella said he expects more roster cuts on Wednesday. . .The coach said it might take into November until the Flyers completely master his system. “I don’t want to overload them with the Xs and Os,’’ Tortorella said. “But I think it’s the effort and the attitude that carries you.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2446 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.