After a concerning weekend back-to-back, the Philadelphia Flyers have now lost six of their last eight games. Including three straight for the second time in the last two weeks.
Over the past two weeks, the Flyers have just two wins after opening the season 5-2-0. During which, the Flyers have been outscored 25-16.
In a sport where results matter, the message from head coach John Tortorella has been a mixed one. Making the point that the effort is there, but the results are not.
“You can boo us; you can talk shit about; I’ll back these guys because they are trying,” Tortorella said after Sunday’s 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. “If it was an effort problem, that would be another thing.”
Tortorella added “those are the things that I have to be fair about when we’re trying to build this team. I’m very pleased with the effort. I don’t give a shit what people think about effort.”
This “effort” that Tortorella is talking about, already has some glaring & obvious take-aways. Both positive and negative.
In game-6, Tortorella took his displeasure with Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny effort by benching the two for the 3rd period. A game in which the Flyers were down 2-0 heading into the 3rd period.
“We weren’t playing good enough,” Travis Konecny said after being benched for the 3rd period vs the San Jose Sharks. “I was out for both goal; I’m sure that had something to do with it.”
Konecny added “he has been on us about that since day-1 of camp. Doesn’t matter who you are, you gotta play the right way.”
While John Tortorella has sent a direct message to his team that even his leaders can sit, it has provided for some more minutes to the players that bring energy.
Wade Allison, who started off on a bad foot with John Tortorella, has really taken his head coach’s criticism to heart. Making the needed changes to play more north-south rather than east-west. Thus resulting in a promotion to the 2nd line and more playing time before his injury.
John Tortorella’s focus on effort and playing his way has helped the Flyers early in the season. Rewarding the players who play the way Tortorella wants his team to play.
But, when you have a guy like Zack MacEwen, who is a bottom-six winger, playing in your top-six because of his “effort”, it’s a cause for concern. Especially when results matter.
Now, no knock to MacEwen. Zack is earning his time and spot in the lineup. His effort and attitude after being one of the final Flyers cuts out of training camp has stood out.
However, the perception being sent by John Tortorella is an interesting one.
The Flyers need the best available 18-players to play on a nightly basis. Those 18-players need to be at their best and need to play the right way. If not, changes could & should happen.
What the problem surrounds is the construction of how those players are playing. The same issue the Flyers had in the offseason when they were in need of “skillful NHL talent.”
If John Tortorella is going to base his lineup construction on who provides the best effort, the Flyers are in for another long season.
On a night by night basis, having bottom-six players going against the top players in the NHL will not work out every night. Yes, as the Flyers record showed over the two weeks of the season, it can produce results.
However, as a season goes on and teams start to play to their abilities, it will cause a lot of struggles. As you can see from the Flyers most recent stretch.
Effort can only get you so far in a sport where results matter.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Jackson – Getty Images