Getting Drysdale back could help Flyers’ struggling power play

Jamie Drysdale

      PHILADELPHIA – Any uncertainty about the importance of defenseman Jamie Drysdale’s return to the Flyers’ lineup after a 16-game shoulder injury absence was quickly erased on Monday morning.

      That’s when coach John Tortorella announced Drysdale would be assuming “quarterback” duties on the Flyers’ struggling power play.

      Drysdale was scheduled to take over that role for Monday night’s home game against the New York Islanders.

      He’s the second big returnee from Injured Reserve in the past two games. Nick Seeler came back to playing status for last Saturday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks after missing 11 games. The Seeler-Drysdale pairing might be reunited as well.

      To make room for Drysdale, Cam York was pulled off the power-play QB role, at least for the Islanders game. The pairing of York and Travis Sanheim has logged huge minutes in recent games. York totaled nearly 25 minutes in the Chicago game and clearly could use a breather.

      “We’re going to try to cut down some of his (York’s) minutes and let Jamie run it,” Tortorella said at Monday morning’s pre-game skate at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees, N.J.

      “I think it’s more of an experienced ‘four,’ (in reference to Drysdale and Seeler taking over for presumably rookies Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning). Johnny (Erik Johnson) is more of an experienced guy, he’ll be in there with ‘Z’ (Egor Zamula). I think he (associate coach Brad Shaw, who runs the defense) can balance a little bit more, too, in trying to cut down these minutes.”

     Drysdale said he was itching to get back.

     “It sucks being out,” Drysdale said. “Especially when your team is kind of going to war night in, night out. That’s never fun. It’s good to be back.

      Drysdale was in a good frame of mind because this injury could have been a lot worse. It turned out to be weeks, not months. This should give him enough playing time to get his game ready should the Flyers make the playoffs for the first time in four years.

      “I think ultimately that was the main thing going through my head,” he said. “It could have been four to six months and now it’s like four weeks.”

      Drysdale, 21, came over from the Anaheim Ducks in a trade which saw former first-round pick Cutter Gauthier sent packing after he refused to sign a contract with the Flyers. In 17 games with Philadelphia, Drysdale has produced two goals/four points with a minus-9.

      He tried to make the best of his down time.

      “Watched a lot of hockey,” he said. “Which I guess you could say was not ideal. But you pick up little things that you don’t see when you are playing. Hopefully I can come back and get back into it again.”

      The right-handed shot, who is a native of Toronto, can only make the Flyers’ defense situation better. The Flyers once had their team plus-minus number above plus double-digit numbers. Now it’s dropped to minus-16 and much of that had to do with the loss of Drysdale, Seeler and Rasmus Ristolainen, who’s still on the injured list.

      Drysdale and Seeler should complement each other well.

      “He’s a heck of a player,” Drysdale said of Seeler. “I’ve never seen anyone block so many shots in my life (186 this season). I love the way he plays the game.”

      >Flyers’ meeting important

      The Flyers held a team meeting on Monday morning to kind of reset their strategies and outlook.

      “We talked as a team, said we need to change our schedule away from the rink and how we go about our business,” York said. “We know what’s at stake and everything. So we just have to get back to our game here.”

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About Wayne Fish 2473 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.