Flyers hope their league-low ‘run production' gets a lift soon


VOORHEES, N.J. — John Tortorella and the Flyers would not pin their last loss on Carter Hart's hiccup out of his crease.

If anything, it made Tortorella further realize his team's need for some goal scoring.

One lapse is magnified when you struggle to score.

"We had a chance to bail him out," the head coach said Monday morning, two days after the Flyers' frustrating 3-2 defeat to the Devils. "This is where we're at kind of. We can't absorb a lot of mistakes because we just don't have a lot of run production."

The Flyers are hoping more run production is around the corner in the form of James van Riemsdyk. The 33-year-old winger is nearing a return to the lineup in his recovery from a broken left index finger. He suffered the injury Oct. 23 and has missed the last 19 games, a stretch in which the Flyers have gone 4-10-5 with a league-worst 2.21 goals per game.

"Definitely progressing," van Riemsdyk said after taking part in the team's morning skate. "Day by day I feel like I'm getting better, so hoping to be pretty close here to getting back into the swing of things and in a game soon."

He has been cleared for contact but won't play tonight when the Flyers host the Avalanche (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). It sounds like there's a possibility he could back at some point this week.

"Just a matter of getting back into it, going through all the proper protocols," van Riemsdyk said. "Just making sure when I get back in there, I'm ready to contribute and not be a liability.

"A lot of going by the feel and managing the different things that come with it. You're trying to get to a point where you can function and play. It may not be perfect right off the hop, but if I can go out there and contribute, things like that, that's just what I'm focused on.

"I'd like to think I'm relatively close here."

The two-time 30-or-more goal scorer broke a finger in March 2020 about a week before the coronavirus forced the NHL to shut down. That one did not require surgery, whereas this fracture did.

The Flyers enter this week at 8-12-4 and they've missed van Riemsdyk. He had five points (two goals, three assists) and a plus-5 through five games before suffering the injury in the sixth game of the season. He also led the Flyers in goals last season with 24.

"It sucks to watch," van Riemsdyk said. "Felt good about the work I put in in the summer to really prepare myself to come in and have a really strong year. To have sort of a fluky thing like that happen definitely hurts.

"Then when you see the team struggling a little bit, you want to be in there to try to help. I think the team has been playing hard, the effort has been good. I just want to get back in there and try to help any way I can."

The Flyers rank last in the NHL with 2.36 goals per game and a 14.1 power play percentage. Getting van Riemsdyk back and then potentially Cam Atkinson (upper body) soon would be a boost.

"I'm getting close, but not enough to where I think I can help this team right now," Atkinson said Saturday. "But I'm closer than not."

Tortorella's club will have to continue to rely on structure and goal prevention in an attempt to pick up some wins.

"The thing that's encouraging to me, I just think we're taking steps in the right direction in some of the more difficult parts of the game, playing away from the puck," Tortorella said. "I think we're going in the right direction there. That's a responsibility that we have to keep on driving through.

"The fun part of the games, scoring goals, that's where we have some struggles. [Travis Konecny] seems to be getting going, James I think is pretty close maybe. Maybe our power play scores another goal the next game and it just starts gaining some confidence there."

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