Tortorella wants fourth line to have strong identity

Zack MacEwen

Flyers coach John Tortorella started a fourth line of Jackson Cates centering recent callup Zack MacEwen and Nic Deslauriers for Tuesday night’s game at Tampa.

The coach said he wants this unit to have “an identity’’ and explained why.

“You want them to bang, you want them to chase things,’’ Tortorella said prior to the game at Amalie Arena. “I think Nic has done a really good job in the first two games of changing the momentum in the game.

“Gets into a fight, we have a good reaction and score. He had a couple big hits in the first game (a 5-2 win over New Jersey) and we end up scoring goals back to back. That’s where that line is going to get more minutes if they can get it tilted that way and change momentum.’’

Jackson Cates was also a recent callup and looks comfortable in the middle of this bruiser crew.

He’s actually been giving his brother, Noah, some tips on what to do in the pivot.

“I haven’t said too much about playing center, just let him do his thing,’’ Jackson said. “He knows the importance, the responsibility a center has. Be hard to play against, just get the job done.’’

Tortorella has been using Noah Cates at center, where he played in college, although he seems a little more at home on the wing.

The coach had Tanner Laczynski in the middle to start the season but realized he had to make a switch.

“I took Laz out of the middle because I think it’s too much for him right now. Cates has jumped right in, you can see he thinks the game. With ‘Coots’ (Sean Couturier) out, I think he’s going to stay there.’’


>MacEwen makes season debut


One day after McEwen was called up from the Phantoms, he found himself in the lineup on Tuesday night against the Lightning. The sense is he earned this opportunity.

MacEwen offered a strong physical presence on the Flyers last season and that usually ups the energy level. That’s what Tortorella was hoping for when he made the decision to put the big right wing in the lineup.

“I thought Mac’s (training) camp was going in the right trajectory I guess,’’ Tortorella said. “I want to give him an opportunity. I want to see if we can get a little more forechecking.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2437 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.