The Philadelphia Flyers have completed half their preseason slate, but newly-hired head coach John Tortorella hasn’t been behind the bench yet. Even before the new era begins, the team is dealing with injuries to their two most critical players for the 2022-23 season. There’s never a dull moment in the world of the Flyers, as they sit two weeks away from the regular-season opener.
Couturier, Hart Injuries
The Flyers finally got some good news on the injury front. After panic set in last week when reports surfaced that Sean Couturier could miss the entire 2022-23 season with a herniated disc, the team announced on Wednesday that he will not need surgery for his upper-body injury. While he is extremely unlikely to rejoin his teammates on the ice during the preseason, he is considered week-to-week.
Already facing an uphill battle with a lack of top-line caliber forwards, the Flyers will have a tough time fielding a competitive team in Couturier’s absence. Their depth at center was already relatively thin. Kevin Hayes will try to fill the vacancy in the top spot, but the rest of the centers on the roster don’t have track records of NHL success. Morgan Frost is still inexperienced. Patrick Brown will try to hold off Tanner Laczynski and Jackson Cates for the fourth-line center role.
The Flyers would ideally use Scott Laughton on the wing, but injuries might force him back to the middle just like they did for long stretches last season. Veteran Artem Anisimov entered camp on a PTO, but an injury has kept him out of action since Saturday. If he can’t prove himself during the preseason, his odds of making the roster will essentially disappear.
Carter Hart practiced at the Flyers Training Center in Vorhees, NJ on Wednesday. He is still considered day-to-day with a lower-body injury. All indications suggest that the approach is precautionary. The 24-year-old has the starting goaltender position locked up while Felix Sandström, Troy Grosenick, and Samuel Ersson battle for the backup role.
Flyers Setting “The Standard”
The Flyers Youtube channel debuted “The Standard: Inside Flyers Training Camp” on Tuesday. The series will chronicle the team’s journey leading up to the regular-season opener on Oct. 13. The title alludes to the standard for dedication and performance that Tortorella spoke about repeatedly during the offseason. The opening monologue from Philadelphia’s new head coach included some fiery expletives about his expectations for change during his tenure.
Frost spoke the most extensively in the first episode. He opened up about his approach to the opportunity in front of him in 2022-23 and newfound confidence in his game.
“A lot of it is just a mindset thing. To some extent last year, I think maybe some of my opportunity was from other guys being injured and the situation the team was in. The way I play my game, I can’t be out there and second-guessing myself at all. I’ve got to play with a lot of confidence and a little bit of swagger. The end of the year last year and how I trained over the summer, I feel a new sense of confidence. I feel like I belong here. Like I said, I don’t just want to be on the team. I want to make stuff happen and be a difference maker,” Frost said.
Frost failed to capitalize on the opportunities handed to him in 2021-22. He looked lost on the ice for certain stretches of the season. He floated back and forth between Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms despite more than enough opportunity to earn playing time. He finished the season with only five goals and 11 assists in 55 games, but he did develop chemistry with wingers Owen Tippett and Noah Cates during his best stretch at the end of the season.
Joel Farabee and Tyson Foerster also spoke with good insight on the new set of expectations playing under Tortorella. The two former first-round picks are living together during training camp. While Farabee enters the first year of his six-year, $30 million contract extension signed last offseason, the potential sniper Foerster is battling for a spot in the lineup on opening night.
The Flyers opened the preseason with a victory against the Boston Bruins on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Noah Cates opened the scoring with a power-play goal in the second period, and his brother Jackson broke a 1-1 tie with the game-winner late in the third period. Sandström stopped all 17 shots before giving way to Grosenick midway through the game.
Wade Allison and Hayden Hodgson both dropped the gloves to defend teammates after tough Bruins checks. Ian Laperriere, who coached behind the bench with Tortorella watching from the press box, commended the two American Hockey League (AHL) fringe players after the game for standing up for their teammates.
The first road game of the preseason came against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. Travis Konecny scored the only goal for the Flyers, assisted by Frost and James van Riemsdyk. Brandon Brio scored both Buffalo goals. Former Notre Dame captain and Philadelphia camp invitee Adam Karashik dropped the gloves in the third period with Filip Cederqvist.
The Washington Capitals controlled play for most of the night in their 3-1 victory at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday while assistant coach Brad Shaw ran the bench for the Flyers. Dylan Strome lit the lamp twice for Washington. Hayes scored the only goal for the Flyers on a beautiful feed from Owen Tippett. The play was set up by a big body check from Allison that forced a tunover and a rush into the Washington zone. The Flyers will travel to Boston next to face the Bruins on Saturday afternoon.
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Colin Newby is a freelance journalist from Delaware County, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers. He is an encyclopedia of useless sports knowledge with an uncanny ability to rattle off Flyers goaltending stats from 2004 and every Stanley Cup winner during his lifetime. The depths of his knowledge stem from spending his entire life following the Flyers and the NHL, from fan favorites like the “Legion of Doom” and Claude Giroux to forgotten journeymen like Andy Delmore and Branko Radivojevič. He joined the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) in 2022.
Colin also covers the Philadelphia Eagles and works for 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia.