When the Philadelphia Flyers ended their 2020-2021 season, the team had no identify. Being marked as soft, easy to play against, & no fight did not sit well with GM Chuck Fletcher.
To solve their identity crisis, Fletcher made acquisition after acquisition during the offseason. Acquiring guys with proven track records in the NHL.
Ryan Ellis may have been Chuck Fletcher’s biggest acquisition. However, the addition of Rasmus Ristolainen went a long way to solving their identity crisis.
Rasmus Ristolainen has been marked as one of the most physical players to play against in the NHL. A player with a big body & heavy, old-time hockey style of play.
“He’s really heavy,” Nicolas Aube-Kubel said when describing Ristolainen. “It’s way better to have him on our team than against us.”
Ristolainen’s style of play is a dying bread in the NHL. However, a much-needed style of play on a team with multiple young stars.
Last season, on multiple occasions, it felt as if the Flyers young stars were being thrown around. Thrown around in a way where the opposing team knew there was no “bully” per-say to protect them.
That protection will be provided by Ristolainen this season.
“It seems like he just clears space for everyone,” Cam Atkinson said of Ristolainen’s play. “You can tell he’s hungry.”
Coming from the Buffalo Sabres, Ristolainen has never been part of a winning culture. Never been part of a competing team in the NHL.
That hunger that Cam Atkinson describes is a driving force for Rasmus Ristolainen in Philadelphia.
“It felt great that I was wanted here,” Ristolainen said about being traded to Philadelphia. “Can’t wait to bring my game to help the team.”
The addition of Ristolainen & his style of play will be big for the Flyers success this season.
Head coach Alain Vigneault gave a very good reason why after Rasmus Ristolainen played his first game at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday night. A game that saw Ristolainen have a team-high 6-hits.
“Every time he’s on the ice, if I’m the opposition, I’m making sure my head’s up high,” Vigneault said. “He brings that dimension (toughness) there is no doubt.”
Vigneault added during training camp “that other team is going to step out on the ice and see him and his big body. Who wouldn’t be afraid to go through him? That’s one of the reasons why Chuck made that deal.”
Rasmus Ristolainen’s imposing figure & physicality isn’t just his game. It’s his staple. Going out on a nightly basis making his presence known.
“I like to take hits and give hits too,” Ristolainen said when describing his game. “Obviously, try to make the other team hate me and not want to play against me.”
This season will be a big one for the Flyers. But, also Ristolainen himself. Who is a UFA at seasons end.
However, if Ristolainen brings his game, brings the physicality, & brings the energy, it will go a long way with the Flyers & his teammates.
“When you see him out there hitting guys, as a guy who’s been in the league for a while, especially in preseason, it kind of gets everybody else going as well,” Keith Yandle said.
Photo Credit : Flyers PR