VOORHEES, N.J. – When Flyers coach John Tortorella stated his team is “not making the playoffs” this season during his Monday press briefing, hardly an eyebrow was raised.
Excluding a brief burst of good play in January, the Flyers were never in the postseason picture. They did get back to the .500 mark at one point after a 10-game winless streak, so there’s at least that to hang their hat on.
So this was as good as any time for Tortorella to talk about what was left to play for in the team’s final 21 games.
In the short term, Tortorella will be in consultation with general manager Chuck Fletcher to evaluate the team’s personnel, including players who might be affected by Friday’s NHL trade deadline.
A perfect example is trying to decide what the fate of potential unrestricted free agent James van Riemsdyk might be.
“I try to stay away from it because it’s really not my call,” Tortorella said after practice at the Flyers Training Center. “I can’t forecast where we are with the (salary) cap. Chuck does that.
“I give Chuck the information when he asks me on players. Our process is different than some other teams. He has to take that into his mind and how he wants to go about it. We have to decide if it’s worth trading him (JVR). I’m just not in tune to that. I have enough things to worry about.”
Tortorella was blunt with his assessment of where things stand with his team right now. The Flyers are 1-6-1 in their last eight games and haven’t shown much life in the month of February.
“We’re not getting in the playoffs,” he said. “We need to concentrate on being who we are. Try to win games, understanding we have to defend first. Because we just lost our best offensive player (Travis Konecny) and he’s going to be out for a while.
“That’s where I have to take responsibility and make sure we are thinking clearly. We have to think about playing defensively in order for us to survive and compete the last quarter of the year.”
These last six weeks will be crucial in the evaluation process.
“It’s very important,” Tortorella said. “It’s just the pride of putting the uniform on. We’re going to sell (players at the deadline). We have a long way to go. It’s hard for athletes to go through this at the end of the season. They’re not martyrs. I just want to see guys play with a little pride. That’s something we want on the bus moving forward.”
>Deadline date not a distraction
In the wake of Saturday night’s 7-0 loss at New Jersey, it was only natural to ask if the Flyers might be distracted by the upcoming deadline.
Tortorella was asked how much of a bad taste was left by the worst loss to the Devils in team history.
“They’ve moved by it,” Tortorella said. “They practiced well. They’re getting ready for their next game.
The key thing is not letting the trade deadline become a distraction.
“I’ve already had that conversation,” Tortorella said. “I think when people are throwing it against the wall, like ‘Provy’ (Ivan Provorov) – people being traded. I already had that conversation then. We don’t need another one. It was pretty point-blank with the information I gave them. So we’re good.”
If the Flyers are letting the deadline become a distraction, they don’t seem all that willing to admit it.
“I can’t speak for the players but I think they’re pretty good at it,” he said. “Is it the 7-0 loss, is the noise still going on there? Is it the trade deadline? I’ll be honest, all the expiring contracts, of course those are the guys mostly talked about.
“They know it’s there. They’re pros, they’ve gone through it before. They’re human. I’m sure they’re thinking about it but I don’t think it’s distracted them at all.”
Alternate captain Scott Laughton agreed.
“I think anytime you’re in a spot like we are, you probably know we’re not going to be buyers,” he said. “It’s part of the business. You have to deal with it. Different guys deal with it in different ways. It stinks but it’s the way the system works.
“It’s been a tough little stretch. At this point, everyone kind of knows what is going on. You have to play, you’re a professional. We have a job to do. All you can do is keep your head up and go to work.”
>No players sitting out Wednesday
Tortorella said he will not sit out any players for the Wednesday game against the New York Rangers, the last game before the trade deadline. “We haven’t had any discussion of that fashion at all,” he said.
>Konecny update expected
The Flyers say they will have an update on the condition of Konecny sometime later in the day on Monday.
Tortorella said Konecny is out for an extended period of time.
Kevin Hayes and Wade Allison were given the day off for maintenance. Allison blocked a shot late in Saturday night’s 7-0 loss at New Jersey. Tortorella hopes to have Hayes back in a day or so. Also, van Riemsdyk could be back at practice on Tuesday after sitting out the New Jersey game with several issues.