Flyers not allowing goals, but not scoring many either

Flyers' Rasmus Ristolainen (right) and Lukas Sedlak (center) get some coaching advice at Saturday's practice in Las Vegas.

Playing strong defensive hockey is great, as long as you can see pucks going in the net at the other end of the rink.

Therein lies the problem for the Flyers, who have looked much better holding down the offenses of some high-scoring teams of late.

They just can’t seem to finish plays at the end of games.

That’s what coach John Tortorella and his staff continue to emphasize, making plays and generating scoring chances while not giving up a lot in their defensive zone.

In their last handful of games, the Flyers have kept New Jersey, Colorado, Washington and Vegas in check for most of those encounters.

But in some instances they let their foot off the gas,

“We held them (Vegas), except for that little seven/eight-minute stretch in the second period, to really a lot of shots from the outside,’’ said Tortorella after Saturday’s practice at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena as they prepared for Sunday afternoon’s game at Arizona. “We just couldn’t make the next play and score the next goal. It was one of our best overtimes we’ve played, had three or four chances, we don’t score, they can. That was the difference in the game.’’

Tortorella likes his team’s ability to hang there, the way it did in the 2-1 overtime loss to the Golden Knights on Friday night.

The coach doesn’t want his team to get frustrated just because it isn’t getting results.

“That’s the most important part for us right now because we had a pretty pointed meeting prior to that game about our concentration level because I thought it was dipping,’’ the coach said. “It’s the frustration of not finishing games. You feel it, I see it after games. We just have to stay within ourselves here. Just get about our business and stay the course until we find some offense.’’

The Flyers have gotten Scott Laughton and James van Riemsdyk back from the injured list and hope to have Cam Atkinson, who has yet to see action this season, back in the lineup soon.

Rookie Noah Cates said getting these veteran players back into the lineup are key because there’s a pretty good structure in place.

“It’s huge,’’ he said. “Obviously their skill set but also their leadership. Their experience is huge, just to find a way in these games. We’ve been close going into the third period or whatever. I think that experience will push us over the edge coming up here.

“We can’t stray from the way we’re playing. Our defense-first style, we can’t get away from that. We haven’t been scoring as much as we would like. But defense comes first and I think that will pay off when these older guys come back and we have that experience.’’


>Going back to college, sort of


The Flyers will get their first look at Mullett Arena, the new home of the Coyotes. It’s significant because it holds only 5,000 seats, making it the smallest venue in NHL history.

The Coyotes were forced to move here because they were evicted from Gila River Arena, their home since 2003, due to unpaid tax and lease bills. They hope to have a new home someday but for now they’re signed up for three years at Mullett, home of the Arizona State Sun Devils.

“That will be great,’’ predicted Cates, who played four years for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. “Definitely, one of the great things about college hockey is the student section. They’re all intense, they’re all packed. That will be interesting. Really looking forward to playing there.’’

A number of Flyers have played college hockey, including Joel Farabee (Boston University), Kevin Hayes (Boston College), Patrick Brown (Boston College), James van Riemsdyk (New Hampshire), Wade Allison (Western Michigan) and Cam Atkinson (Boston College).

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About Wayne Fish 2452 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.