Foerster’s all-around game key to scoring success

Tyson Foerster

      PHILADELPHIA – It’s difficult to get Flyers coach John Tortorella to give a player, especially a rookie, unconditional praise for his performances.

      But aside from a few technical things, right wing Tyson Foerster is just about getting a straight grade-A report card from the bench boss.

      That’s pretty much what happens when a player scores six goals in four games, and coming off a four-game injury absence no less.

      At Monday morning’s skate at the Flyers Training Center, Tortorella stressed his young right wing is playing the game the right way and that’s contributed to his recent success.

      “Everything I’ve thrown at him he’s handled,” the coach said. “Yeah, this is his first year. The way he carries himself, the way he’s handled all situations he’s been put in, he hasn’t blinked.

      “If we feel we’re hurting him and there are some mistakes in his game or something is going wrong with his confidence, sure we’ll look at that. He hasn’t come close to that. Even when he was struggling scoring (at the season’s outset).”

      Communication between coach and player was key.

      “We just needed a few-second talk on how he was handling himself when he wasn’t scoring because he was showing some frustration. That’s the only conversation I’ve had with him as far as what it is to be a pro and how to handle these things I’m throwing him in. I don’t have to worry about that with him.”

      After scoring twice in Saturday night’s win over Ottawa, Foerster had upped his season goal total to 16, just one off the NHL rookie lead at the time.

      “He played in the (right) areas when he wasn’t scoring,” Tortorella pointed out. “A little bit snakebitten. Some were blocked. Just one of those things. That was added pressure for him. In conversations with him just passing in the hallway, he’s handled it really well.”

      Foerster scored on a penalty shot against Ottawa and showed remarkable patience as he skated in on goal. He looked like a seasoned veteran, calmly tucking the puck inside the post.

      “It was nice to get one of those goals,” Foerster said.

      On the play leading up to the penalty shot, Foerster was aware the clock was running out (only 1.5 seconds left when play stopped).

      “I think I had a step on him (Shane Pinto, the guilty party),” Foerster recalled. “He might have slashed me a bit. After, ‘Beezer’ (Joel Farabee) was screaming at the ref, ‘Give it to him! Give it to him!’ So it was pretty funny. It was nice to get one of those goals.

      “It helps when the boys around you (Morgan Frost, Owen Tippett) are helping a lot. We’re playing well right now. We’re just trying to stick with it and make the playoff push.”

      >Staal playing meaningful games

      With injuries to defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Jamie Drysdale, veteran Marc Staal has been pressed back into regular duty and he’s held his own. Last year Staal played on the Florida Panthers, who made a surprise trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

      “He and I had an honest conversation,” Tortorella said. “I had periodic conversations during the week when he wasn’t playing. It’s hard for a Staal (he has two brothers also playing in the NHL), first of all, how competitive he is in that family. . .what they’ve done for the league.

      “He’s just wanting to be part of it. It’s hard for guys to sit out because you feel like you’re on the outside. So we try to include him in the meetings. Even during that time, he was mentoring some of the guys off the ice. I told him right along, eventually we’re going to need you. I wasn’t going to come off mentoring the kids but he’s playing now and I’m sure he’s enjoying it.”

      Tortorella said he was sure there were times when the lack of playing wore on Staal but now that’s somewhat of a distant memory.

      “It never affected his attitude,” the coach insisted.

      >Tense time for Seeler

      Defenseman Nick Seeler is one of several Flyers who hope they’re still here after Friday’s NHL trade deadline. Seeler isn’t signed for next year and can become an unrestricted free agent.

      Seeler had made his mark this year mainly by blocking shots. He’s been at or near the top of the NHL in that category all season.

      “He has hockey sense,” Tortorella said. “That is 99 percent willingness. That’s what he does. I watch him on (video) tape – I don’t appreciate enough when it’s in the game because there are so many other things going on – and I see the positions he puts himself in for the team. It’s just fantastic.”

      Is any of that blood-and-guts style rubbing off on other players?

      “I’m not in the room watching him interact with those guys,” the coach said. “But I’m sure people are going to him. You can’t help but gravitate to a guy like that as far as what he gives to this organization. Just what he gives each and every night. So I’m sure that (interaction) is going on.”

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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.