Even without Tortorella, Flyers look for big bounce-back game

Even though Flyers coach John Tortorella has been suspended for two games, he was still able to oversee practice at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J. on Monday. (Photo by Wayne Fish)_

      VOORHEES, N.J. – Late last season, when the Flyers were out of playoff contention, both associate head coach Brad Shaw and assistant coach Rocky Thompson had a chance to run the team’s bench during a game.

      Little did the Flyers know that experience might come in handy someday.

      When the Flyers take to the Wells Fargo Center ice on Tuesday night to face the San Jose Sharks, head coach John Tortorella will be nowhere in sight.

      That’s because Tortorella was suspended for two games due to an incident which took place midway through the first period of Saturday night’s embarrassing 7-0 loss at Tampa Bay.

      Tortorella, incensed about the reversal of a call made against defenseman Ronnie Attard, initially refused to leave the bench after he received a game misconduct penalty.

      The NHL didn’t take kindly to that and will force Tortorella to sit out the Sharks game, plus Thursday’s home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In addition, the league fined Tortorella $50,000.

      So Shaw and Thompson will run the show against the next two opponents and both Tortorella and a number of players expressed confidence those gentlemen can get the job done.

      “They’ll be fine,” Tortorella predicted after Monday’s practice at the Wells Fargo Center. “Everyone from the staff who goes behind the bench will be fine.”

      Tortorella chose not to comment on the suspension or fine.

      As for player reaction, Cam Atkinson probably summed it up best. Even though Tortorella won’t be there, his coaching philosophy will be.

      “It’s just the next man up mentality,” said Atkinson with a chuckle. “Next coach up. And just go from there.”

      Are there any differences when Shaw and Thompson run the show vs. Tortorella?

      “I mean all the coaches do a lot of talking,” Atkinson said. “Whoever is next man up, you kind of know the whole gameplan anyway. We haven’t had a game like that (vs. the Lightning) in a long time. I think we’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”

    Sean Couturier was out all last season due to back surgery but he watched Shaw and Thompson do a good job in their tryouts.

      “I’m sure they’re familiar with our group,” he said. “Torts will be around to prepare us the same way we would for any other game.”

      Atkinson had no problem with what Tortorella did.

      “It is what it is, there were probably a couple questionable calls,” he said. “I personally don’t think what he did was wrong. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.”

      The veteran forward was asked if the current set of circumstances can be a rallying point for this team.

      “I don’t know about that, but the most important thing is that we have each others’ backs,” Atkinson said. “Whether you’re a player or a coach. Like I said, I don’t think what he did was out of line.

      “So we have to rally around each other and come together.”

      Those who have followed Tortorella’s career through places like Tampa, the New York Rangers, Vancouver and Columbus know he’s an emotional bench boss who will do whatever it takes to win. That’s one of the reasons why he’s tied for ninth place all-time on the NHL coaches’ win list.

      “You know he’s always going to protect us,” Owen Tippett said. “He cares for his players. It’s easy to play for a guy like that. He’s going to give his best every night because he expects us to.”

      After the humbling defeat in Tampa, Shaw told the postgame media representatives that the Flyers have responded well after a tough defeat all season long. So the home team should come out ready to go for the Sharks.

      “It’s one of those sports where you kind of have to forget but at the end of the day, when you come back the next game, you have to know what the result of the last game was,” Tippett said. “You never want that to happen again. It’s all about how you respond.”

       Couturier added a lighter moment when asked about the severity of Tortorella’s banishment.

      “Is he a repeat offender?” Couturier mused aloud. “Two games for getting tossed out? I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that.”

      >Short shots

      The Flyers recalled defenseman Adam Ginning from Lehigh Valley on Monday. This came after the team was forced to go with just five defensemen on Saturday after Egor Zamula took ill. . .One thing the Flyers can’t afford to do is overlook San Jose. “Especially when there are teams that are out, they play looser – they’re free, they’re dangerous teams,” said Tortorella. “We need to be ready to play.”. . .Defenseman Travis Sanheim had a “maintenance day” and did not take part in Monday’s practice. . .Morgan Frost’s 12-game goal drought goes back to Feb. 12. What does he have to work on? “Everything,” Tortorella said. “Consistency. Plain and simple. Consistency in every part of his game.”

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About Wayne Fish 2426 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.