PHILADELPHIA – No one is above Tortorella’s Law.
Flyers coach John Tortorella has made it clear from day one he wasn’t going to hesitate to bench any player – even a big star – if the production wasn’t there.
Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is the latest to feel Tortorella’s wrath.
The veteran was a mild surprise scratch for Saturday night’s game at Ottawa. He hadn’t been playing to Tortorella’s satisfaction, so he found himself in street clothes.
He was back in the lineup for Tuesday night’s home game against the St. Louis Blues and prior to the match let it be known the message had gotten through.
“I think that’s how it should be,’’ he said at the Wells Fargo Center. “If you don’t perform to the level that’s expected, then you don’t earn to be in the lineup.’’
Ristolainen has been paired on the Flyers’ No. 2 pairing with Travis Sanheim for much of the past two seasons and the team needs that unit to perform well to ensure long-term success.
Although Ristolainen has been injured for much of the early season action, he wasn’t using that as an excuse.
“I don’t think injuries were why I made mistakes,’’ he said. “And why I didn’t play good. It’s not an excuse but it didn’t help. I feel great right now and I have no issues.’’
Assistant coach Brad Shaw has been working with Ristolainen on several parts of his game, including moving his feet more and playing better without the puck.
“He’s honest and we’ve been watching some clips,’’ Ristolainen said. “I like the way our coaching staff wants us to play. I’m really excited to be back in tonight.’’
>Hart out due to illness
Goaltender Carter Hart was a late scratch due to an undisclosed illness. Backup Felix Sandstrom was given the start against the Blues. Phantoms goaltender Samuel Ersson was called up to serve as Sandstrom’s backup.
In addition, defenseman Egor Zamula was loaned to Lehigh Valley.
>Berube back in town
St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube, who ran the Flyers bench for parts of two seasons awhile back, has watched his team struggle so far this season.
There really haven’t been any significant injuries to blame. The team just hasn’t responded in the first 10 games.
Entering this game, the Blues were tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for fewest points (six) in the NHL overall standings.
Berube, who still maintains an offseason residence in New Hope, believes the Blues can make a turnaround if they can straighten things out on special teams and some of the small details of the game.
St. Louis did put up a respectable fight in a Monday night loss to league-leading Boston.
“The game was right there after two periods,’’ he said. “I didn’t feel we pushed enough in the third period to get the win. Special teams weren’t good. Power play didn’t get much done and the PK also didn’t get it done.’’
Berube respects what the Flyers have done in their first 11 games.
“They’re a hard-working team, a meat-and-potatoes team,’’ he said. “They’re going to give you the work ethic. They’re going to outwork you, that’s what they want to do. They’re going to play pretty direct hockey.’’