Seeler in for Ristolainen as Flyers get set for season opener

Rasmus Ristolainen

PHILADELPHIA – With defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen a late scratch from the Flyers’ season opener against New Jersey, the best replacement option turned out to be someone with a veteran presence.

That would be Nick Seeler, who coach John Tortorella tabbed mainly because he wanted someone with experience to skate with rookie Egor Zamula.

Ristolainen left Wednesday’s practice with an undisclosed “body injury’’ and is officially listed as day-to-day.

Meanwhile, at the Wells Fargo Center morning skate, Tortorella had Justin Braun filling in at Ristolainen’s spot and paired with Travis Sanheim.

Tortorella said the origin of Ristolainen’s injury precedes Wednesday’s practice.

“It’s lingered,’’ Tortorella said. “It didn’t happen at yesterday’s practice. He’s been nicked up throughout camp.’’

The only decision Tortorella really had to make was whether he would start Seeler or Ronnie Attard.

Tortorella has been around the NHL game for 20 years so the days of nerves and butterflies are pretty much over.

“I’m not nervous, I’m anticipating to see what we are,’’ the coach said. “The beginning of what we are. I just go about my business. It’s not about me, it’s about the players.’’

Clearly the Flyers want to get off on the right foot and get the fan base in their corner.

However, as much as the Flyers want to build support from their followers, it still comes down to self-accountability.

“It’s a new coaching staff, it’s the first game after a really tough year,’’ Tortorella said. “I’m not disrespecting the fans but it’s not so much proving to them, it’s proving to ourselves. Quite honestly, each player. A lot of them were involved in the stuff last year.

“We’ve kind of worked on a mindset of who we are. I’m anxious to see how they act.’’

Tortorella said recently Seeler had an outstanding training camp and earned the opening night start, even if it had to come about by injury.

Seeler worked hard this summer to earn his chance.

“We (Seeler-Zamula) played preseason together,’’ Seeler said. “And we played really well. So we have a little bit of experience with each other. It certainly means a lot that I’m playing on opening night. You can’t get complacent. You have to build off every shift and see where it takes you.’’

Zamula impressed coaches with his strong performances in the preseason. Now he gets to show what he can do at the NHL level. He had a 10-game trial at the end of last season but this audition feels a little different coming at the start of a season.

“I think we (with Seeler) had good communication in the preseason games,’’ Zamula said. “We talk a lot, we support each other. He’s tried to help me a lot.

>Farabee gets final clearance

Although it was pretty much a given that Joel Farabee would be ready to play in the opener, he still needed final clearance from the trainers.

That came and so he was set to play left wing on a line with Noah Cates at center and Owen Tippett on right.

Farabee underwent offseason neck surgery and the original prognosis had him missing as much as the first month or two of the season.

“Probably early this summer I didn’t think I would be playing game one,’’ he said. “But to be here now, to be excited with the guys. . .I think the first night of the season is really exciting so I’m looking forward to it.’’

>DeAngelo cheering section hits 200

Defenseman Tony DeAngelo, a South Jersey native with family roots in South Philadelphia, was all smiles as he answered questions about how many tickets were purchased because of his presence.

The answer? About 200.

He’s not paying for all/many of them himself but there were at least a couple dozen relatives who are scheduled to be in the audience.

“As soon as I got traded here, people started buying season tickets,’’ DeAngelo said with a grin. As for opening night jitters, there aren’t too many. “I don’t get nervous anymore really. Once the puck drops and you start playing, it’s over.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2444 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.