With Konecny out, Foerster finding the range at right time

Tyson Foerster

      Without a great deal of fanfare, Flyers forward Tyson Foerster has moved to within three goals of Chicago’s Connor Bedard for the NHL rookie lead.

      While Bedard remains the overall points commander for freshman players despite missing the better part of a month with a broken jaw, Foerster (and Flyers goalie Samuel Ersson) should get some consideration for the Calder Trophy for NHL rookie of the year.

      On top of that, Foerster has four power-play goals (one back of league leader Dmitri Voronkov of Columbus) to Bedard’s two. And Foerster’s 118 shots on goal are second only to Bedard’s 135. Bedard’s 17 goals have him up on Foerster (fourth overall among NHL first-year players with 14).

      Since coming back from a four-game injury absence, Foerster has scored four goals in three games. With leading scorer Travis Konecny out of the lineup for those three games, the 22-year-old Ontario native has stepped up to help fill the void nicely.

      Foerster is playing like someone who’s quite sure of himself and, at times, seems to compete like a much older, more experienced veteran.

      “Any time you’re scoring goals, you get confidence from that,” Foerster said after scoring a goal to break a third-period tie in what became a 6-2 rout of Tampa Bay at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.

      He put a crafty backhander past a startled Alexei Vasilevskiy and those are the kinds of goals that get scored when a player is “feeling it.”

      “Yeah, I really didn’t have a sense of trying to take it to the net,” Foerster explained. “Just trying to get it on net. I don’t know if it was the lights or not (the Wells Fargo Center experienced a partial power failure). It just leaked in and I was pretty happy.”

      Earlier in the season, Foerster was still trying to find the range. Coach John Tortorella used him on both sides of the ice and showed faith in him. That may be why he wasn’t sent back to Lehigh Valley the way another rookie, Bobby Brink, was recently.

      “At the start of the year I wasn’t scoring,” Foerster said, mindful that it took him 16 games to score his first goal of the season. “But I think I was trying to do everything possible to not get scored against. That was my mindset.

      “Now, pucks are starting to go in for me.”

      Tortorella appreciates what Foerster is bringing, particularly in Konecny’s absence.

      “We miss TK,” the coach said. “He’s a huge part of our energy. But you know Tyson is beginning to come.

      “He’s playing with more confidence. Those guys, when they start scoring goals, the puck begins to follow them around and they feel more comfortable with it, for sure. The thing for me is, he doesn’t forget the other parts. He did the work on the walls. Smart player. He’s gaining confidence as far as the offensive part of it.”

      >Brink’s strong return

      Brink, just back from an 11-game stint with the Phantoms, needed barely two minutes to put the red light on against the Lightning.

      That might have been impressive but Tortorella said he was more pleased with the young player’s overall game.

      “The thing I liked about him, in the third period, he turns it over in the neutral zone, he stopped, wins the battle and gets it in,” Tortorella said. “Those are the things I’m looking for. He’s going to be able to score. He’s got to learn the other stuff. He’s got to learn how to carry himself.

      “Those are the things you have to work on with him. But you can see the puck follows him. He has great offensive instincts. He has a lot to learn in other parts of the game.”

      >Short shots

      The Flyers had an unscheduled day off from practice on Wednesday. Some of that might have had to do with three games in four days. A convincing win over the Lightning probably didn’t hurt either. . .Members of the Ryan Poehling-Noah Cates-Garnet Hathaway line finished all plus-3 against the Lightning and Tortorella singled that unit out for praise.

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About Wayne Fish 2472 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.