PHILADELPHIA – Cam Atkinson lives to compete so one can image the frustration the Flyers’ forward is experiencing as a lingering injury continues to keep him out of action.
At Thursday morning’s optional skate at the Flyers Training Center, coach John Tortorella disclosed how much this situation is bothering Atkinson, who played a number of years for Torts when the two were together in Columbus.
Atkinson was supposed to be close to playing in the season opener against New Jersey, then apparently experienced some sort of setback.
“Things changed,’’ the coach said. “And it just went the other way. That’s one frustrated young man. He wants to be a big part of this, he was probably one of the better players last year (team MVP). His body is just not allowing him to get to a spot where he can start conditioning again.
“I’m hoping that can change. As quickly as it went the wrong way, I’m hoping it can go quickly the right way and get him back going.’’
>MacEwen controlling his play
Tortorella said he’s been working with power forward Zack MacEwen to pick his spots more carefully when situations arise to play a physical style.
“In camp he was trying to do too much,’’ Tortorella said. “Instead of just being a straight-ahead guy. Since he’s been told to slow down and just be himself, I think he’s played really well.’’
Tortorella compares MacEwen to Owen Tippett, who was back in the lineup on Thursday night for the first time since suffering a concussion on opening night against New Jersey.
“Tip is a different player, he’s going to score more goals than Mac,’’ Tortorella said. “Touted as that type of (physical) guy. But the potential sometimes screws people up.
“Those words are being talked about him. I just want him (MacEwen) to be a straight-ahead power forward. That’s what I envision him as. He’s going to end up scoring goals that way.’’
>Laczynski’s night off
Although no one in the Flyers organization is confirming it, it appears Tanner Laczynski was given Thursday night off to be with his wife, who is expecting a new addition to the family any day now.
As for Laczynski’s overall play, Tortorella said he’s been trying different line combinations to get the forward going.
“You keep on waiting,’’ the coach said. “He’s such a big guy. I think he can probably end up doing a lot of things in this league. Is it now? I don’t know. Do we develop him here, do we develop him down there (Lehigh Valley)?
“That’s a question I still don’t have an answer to. If we were healthy, he’s probably down there playing. I think if we were healthy, there would probably be four or five guys down there playing. But while he’s here, it gives us a longer look to find out what he is.’’
The Flyers dug down into their past in the game against the Florida Panthers, wearing their “Thursday Throwback’’ retro jerseys from the ‘60s and ’70s.
In addition, there was plenty of rock favorites from those days echoeing through the Wells Fargo Center.
>Frustrating times for injured players
Sean Couturier, who’s been out of action since last February due to complications from back surgery, tried skating a bit last week but that trial has ended for the time being.
Meanwhile, defenseman Ryan Ellis (pelvic injury) remains in limbo.
“He (Couturier) stopped skating,’’ Tortorella confirmed. “He’s just not ready to skate right now. That’s a ways away. I’m not thinking about them as far as lineups in the near future. We just have to wait and see what happens.’’
The Flyers activated Tippett and Rasmus Ristolainen on Thursday and put James van Riemsdyk on IR. JVR is scheduled to have surgery Friday to repair a broken finger.