Flyers working to improve DeAngelo’s defensive play

Tony DeAngelo

When a coach is asked to describe a player’s current level of competition — especially at his assigned position — the last words that performer wants to hear are “defensive liability.”

So Flyers defenseman Tony DeAngelo was a little taken aback when  coach John Tortorella summed up No. 77’s recent efforts with those words of criticism.

Tortorella made a few comments about DeAngelo’s defensive play of late at Thursday morning’s pre-game skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J. But DeAngelo wasn’t made aware of that evaluation until he arrived late in the afternoon to get ready for a game against the Edmonton Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center.

“I think he’s done some great things for us here,’’ Tortorella said. “We want to try to help him. We feel he needs to get better defensively. Without taking away any of that great offensive ability he has.

“The defensive liability is something we need to work at.”

Appraised of Tortorella’s analysis of possible shortcomings, DeAngelo chose to take the high road.

“Obviously that’s his opinion,’’ DeAngelo said. “He’s the coach so you have to listen to what he says. I think I know how to defend. It’s a team game, too, at the same time. There is some stuff I would like to work on, do a little better job at.”

DeAngelo has experienced an up-and-down season in his first go-round with the Flyers.

He started the year on a top pairing with Ivan Provorov but due to some inconsistent play, mostly on defense, has been shuttled down to a second tandem and now finds himself on a third unit with Nick Seeler.

While he’s been a force on the offensive side of the puck, his defensive play has been lacking at times.

Heading into the Oiler game, DeAngelo stood last on the Flyers in plus-minus ratings with a minus-16.

He has produced nine goals and 31 points in 47 games but those numbers don’t make up for his lack of consistency on defense.

“Everybody has room to get better,” DeAngelo said. “You’re not always going to agree with everything that’s said. Offensively I think I’ve been good but the numbers are what they are. That is the main part of my game. But just try to round it out.”

DeAngelo still gets a good share of ice time, particularly on the power play, but being on the third pairing cuts down those even-strength minutes a bit.

“Tony has struggled defensively a little bit here,’’ Tortorella said. “I think we overloaded Tony with a lot of minutes.

“I think we’re trying to divvy up the ice time a little more cleaner as far as not being overloaded, depending on the game. If we’re chasing the game and we need some offense, Tony’s going.”

The projected pairing of DeAngelo and Provorov never really worked out, going back to the preseason. There didn’t seem to be any chemistry there.

“We just didn’t like the pair,’’ Tortorella said. “I think Tony is a really good offensive player. It is our job as a coaching staff to try to help him become better defensively. We need him to become better defensively.”

To his credit, the Sewell, New Jersey native has been working with the coaching staff to improve his defensive skills.

“Last team he played for, Carolina, I think they could absorb some of that with their roster as far as maybe some of his deficiencies defensively,’’ Tortorella said. “It kind of sticks out more with us.”

Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher knew back in July what he was getting when he acquired DeAngelo. Now it’s just a matter of making some adjustments.

“We know what Tony is,’’ Tortorella said. “I think he’s done some terrific things for us in the other parts of the game.”

 

>Konecny looks to break slump

 

After matching his career high of 24 goals in the Flyers’ first 42 games, Travis Konecny entered the Edmonton game with no goals in his last 10 games.

Are teams putting more attention on Konecny? Is he gripping the stick too tightly? Maybe the bounces just aren’t going his way.

“I think he’s getting chances,’’ Tortorella said. “It’s always a concern when one of your top goal-scorers on a team which, for a lot of the year struggled to score, isn’t scoring.

“Not a concern but certainly hoping something good happens for him to get him going. I think he’s very close. The biggest thing with TK for me is him getting in his own head. He’s such a competitor and a guy that wants to help a team so badly and knows we need his scoring. Just continue to do some of the other things you need to do in the game until something happens for you.”

Konecny doesn’t sound overly concerned about the slump which dates back to Jan. 11.

“I knew eventually things it was going to come,” Konecny said. “You know I was getting all the bounces and eventually it’s gonna stop. It’s about getting our team back on track and you know, get myself back to playing the right way and just don’t worry about that stuff.”

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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.