PHILADELPHIA – Maybe Morgan Frost wasn’t doing anything wrong to deserve a six-game benching but it doesn’t sound like he was doing enough things right to stay in the Flyers’ lineup.
Frost was back in action on Monday night against Carolina after sitting out the better part of two weeks. Fourth-line center Ryan Poehling drew the short straw.
Coach John Tortorella said he didn’t have a real problem with the way Frost was playing in the first two games of the season, it’s just that other guys were doing better.
“He hasn’t been bad,” the coach said before the morning skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J. “It’s not like he did anything to warrant coming out for something bad.
“I think this is the evolution of our team. I think we have more people this year. I think there has to be more decisions made with our lineup. I’ve been wanting to get ‘Frosty’ in because he didn’t do anything terrible.”
Frost, 24, came on strong at the end of last season and finished with a somewhat surprising 19 goals. But there were a few times when he took some heat for a risky play here or there. By the summer, there were even a few trade rumors floating around.
“He wasn’t benched or anything,” Tortorella reiterated. “Other guys played better. So ‘Poehls’ is the one (sitting out). Down the road, it could be some other people. That’s healthy, the decisions I have to make with the lineup and just not putting a lineup out there every night with no thought.”
Tortorella said he didn’t plan to use Frost as a substitute on the fourth line but rather in a more offensive role.
To his credit, Frost has accepted the “healthy scratch” decisions in a professional way. No doubt Tortorella told him he wasn’t in bad standing.
Then again, the last player to be a healthy scratch for at least five games in a row was ex-defenseman Tony DeAngelo, whom the Flyers tried to trade at the end of last season but ended up just releasing him from the second year of his two-year contract.
Frost said he’s happy here and doesn’t want to follow the aforementioned path out of town.
“I don’t want to go anywhere,” Frost said. “I think I’ve made that pretty clear. Even in talking with my agent or whoever else it might be, I never had any intention with that. I can’t control what management does but I obviously didn’t ask for a trade.
“I don’t want to get traded. I love it here. I love playing here and I think I can make a big impact here. I think it’s just a little bump in the road.”
Tortorella is hoping Frost can catch up to the pace of the game as quickly as possible.
“We’re really trying to push the pace,” the coach said. “We’re trying to be a pressure team. He’s got to bring us some offense. I think the biggest thing is, and you can’t simulate it with the amount of time he’s been out of the game, is the pace. We want to play fast. I just want to see him join in that way.”
>Praise for Walker
One of the most pleasant surprises of the early going has been the play of defenseman Sean Walker, who was kind of viewed as a throw-in in the Ivan Provorov trade to Los Angeles (Provorov eventually wound up in Columbus).
Walker has made some sensational plays, including a shorthanded goal last week in Dallas. Defensively, he’s been sharp and has caught Tortorella’s eye with his heady plays.
“He’s probably one of our most aggressive defensemen,” Tortorella said. “He takes a chance, as far as getting a ‘gap’ early, not waiting for them to cross the red line. He’s done a terrific job. I talked to (Kings coach) Todd McLellan when we got him out of L.A. and he loved him.
“People thought he was kind of a throw-in but he’s been – one of the first words out of McLellan’s mouth was ‘competitive.’ He’s a righthand shot and he’s done some good things for us.”
>Advice for Tippett
Owen Tippett, who registered 27 goals last season, had posted only one through the first eight games this season. Any concerns?
“He’s had chances,” Tortorella said. “I just looked at the sheets this morning. He had five in the last game. I want him to have the puck more. I want him stronger on the puck. What turned his game around last year, he started being more physical. I think that needs to come into his game. I think he’s adjusted as a left wing with a right(handed) shot. He tends to expose the puck at times and lose it. I want him keeping the puck.”