Cam Atkinson might not have a goal in his last 14 games but you wouldn’t know it from the enthusiastic way he continues to play at both ends of the ice.
The 33-year-old Flyers forward has been through these kinds of slides before and eventually he will resume his prowess at putting the puck in the net.
Besides, eight goals just past a third of the way into the season is nothing really to cry about.
Atkinson played a big role in Thursday night’s come-from-behind 4-3 shootout win over visiting Washington. He helped set up Joel Farabee’s big tying goal early in the third period.
“It hasn’t been going my way lately,” Atkinson admitted. “But we control what we can control. The work ethic, I think it showed at the end of the second period. Our line had a pretty good shift there, drew a penalty. Then (after the power play ended) Joel had a huge goal for us.
“Sometimes that’s all it takes, a little bit of encouragement from someone else. Staying positive.”
Players know that sometimes an assist can be as important as a goal. That’s the way Atkinson looks at it.
“Listen, I want to score every single night,” he said. “I want to contribute, help the team win. Like I said, things haven’t been going my way. But sometimes it’s doing the harder things. I’m not the biggest guy but I have no problem getting in the dirty areas, creating havoc.”
Tortorella has no doubts about Atkinson’s work ethic. Now it’s just a matter of finishing off plays.
“We need more from Cam, we need him to score,” the coach said. “We need him to score in regulation. I believe it will come.”
>Ersson set to play Saturday
At Friday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J., Tortorella said Carter Hart (illness) will not be available for Saturday’s home game against the Detroit Red Wings. Sam Ersson will get the start. Hart missed the Washington game and Ersson filled in and registered his third straight win in shootout verdicts. He’s allowed only one shootout goal in the 10 attempts he’s faced.
The Flyers have registered a point in at least seven straight games. There’s been a loud response from the home fans who do show up for games but there haven’t been any sellouts lately at the Wells Fargo Center in contrast to years back when the place was packed almost every night.
“We make our own bed,” Tortorella said. “We have to play good hockey, we have to win. We have to get into some playoff series (none in the last three years) along the way, win some. . .that’s when you start getting the people back in.
“If they don’t want to come in, they don’t come in. All we can do is try to be the best we can be. Keep on building this the proper way.”
Tortorella’s only been here a little over a year but he’s already a big fan of the Eagles, Phillies and Sixers. He’s struck up a little association with Phillies manager Rob Thomson.
“All the things going on around here, I love it,” the coach said. “I hope we’re part of it. But it’s their (the fans’) call. It’s my job to try to put the best product on the ice.
“Rob and I have exchanged a couple of texts along the way. (He’s a) big hockey fan. I kind of followed him a bit during his runs here. But I really haven’t talked to too many people. I’d love to but sometimes you’re in your seasons. We’re just so focused on our group.”
>Lycksell still here
Olle Lycksell was brought up from the Phantoms for the recent road trip. He did get into one game. But Tortorella said the promotion wasn’t much more than that, even though he’s still with the Flyers for the time being.
“When we traveled, we needed an extra forward,” Tortorella said. “He was playing well (at Lehigh Valley). The reports were good on him. We didn’t bring him up here to play. He was a depth guy. We felt he was the guy to come out of there. If an opportunity comes up, he’ll play. But I’m not going to change the lineup because he’s here. I don’t think we’re in that situation right now.”