Seeler a big part of Flyers’ surprising start

Nick Seeler

      VOORHEES, N.J. – Nick Seeler has more going for him than just that 11th-best plus-minus rating in the NHL.

      He also has the unconditional praise of his coach, John Tortorella, and that’s something because the Flyers’ bench boss is a tough marker when it comes to handing out grades.

      Seeler, 30, who’s been paired with Sean Walker on a very effective defensive tandem, continues to impress with his solid body of work.

      “His puck play has improved tremendously from last year,” said Tortorella after Monday’s practice at the Flyers Training Center. “Puck play getting us out of our end zone. Not being afraid to hang onto a puck. Making plays into the middle of the ice.

      “He’s one of our better defensemen in pinching and getting pucks to the net. He’s solid with his positioning, willing to eat pucks (block shots). And such a competitive guy. That’s never going to change with him.”

      The way things are going, Seeler and Walker will remain partners for the forseeable future.

      “They play off each other very well,” Tortorella said. “They’ve really kind of fused themselves together into a really good pair.”

      Seeler gives a good deal of credit to Walker for the better overall play.

      “I think it (plus-14) is just having that chemistry with ‘Walks’ together,” Seeler said. “We continue to grow as a pair. That’s helped a lot. Hopefully just continue to have that success.”

      Going into Tuesday night’s game at New Jersey, Seeler has not had a minus game in 17 straight. That’s hard to do because some nights the forwards in front of him might just be having an off-game.

      “We’ve been playing well as a team (7-0-1 in last eight),” Seeler said. “We’ve been solid defensively as a team. And we’ve been trying to play quicker and quicker but not without thinking about the defensive part of the game. Our forwards have done a great job this year with back pressure. That allows us as defensemen to step up, read the play.”

      >Sanheim healthy again

      Travis Sanheim missed Saturday’s 1-0 win over Detroit due to illness but he was out practicing on Monday and should be good to play against New Jersey.

      “It helped to have an extra day off yesterday (Sunday),” Sanheim said after practice. “I’m ready to go.”

      Like Seeler, Sanheim is enjoying an outstanding season and is situated among the NHL’s top defensemen for minutes played.

      The Flyers recording a shutout in his absence seems like a pretty good omen.

      “Obviously whenever you get a shutout, the D-corps plays well,” Sanheim said. “They did a great job. I thought as a group, they all stepped up.”

      >Short shots

      Sanheim said the game against the Devils ranks high on the Flyers’ priorities list. “I think it’s an important game,” he said. “Coming up with the Christmas break. Just where we are in the standings. I think anytime you have a divisional game it means a little bit more. We have to be ready to go.”. . .Sean Couturier had a maintenance day off on Monday but is expected to play in the Devils game. . .Rasmus Ristolainen filled in admirably for Sanheim but is likely headed back to the third defensive pair with either Marc Staal or Egor Zamula. “It’s a nice problem to have,” Tortorella said. “We’re going to go back with our pairs. ‘Risto’ played a hell of a game the other night when we bumped him. He will get his ice time.”

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About Wayne Fish 2338 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.