Flyers analysis

Self-critical Cates just fine with a learning moment

The young center was hard on himself in the third period of the Flyers' loss to the Hurricanes

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No coach brought the film to Noah Cates.

He found the clip himself.

On YouTube.

"Had to look," he said with an honest smile Tuesday.

This wasn't a highlight. It was an uncharacteristic turnover and missed opportunity defensively by a player who prides himself on the game's finest details. The details that don't jump off the screen but make a world of a difference.

Cates wanted to watch his mistake.

And that says a lot.

"I think I'll learn from this game and from this league until I'm done with it," Cates said. "It's such a great game, it's such a game where it's situational. There's never a similar play or a similar game. Situational play is huge, we talk about it so much. Just learning from things like that."

With four minutes left in a 2-2 game Monday night against the Hurricanes, Cates tried to orchestrate the Flyers out of the defensive zone. But Jaccob Slavin made a superb play to intercept Cates' pass out of midair and reestablish possession for Carolina. The Hurricanes went back to work and found Teuvo Teravainen open in the slot for the game-winning goal.

Before the puck got to Teravainen, it was loose around the goal line. Cates had a chance to break up the play but couldn't connect with the puck. Michael Bunting found it and snuck a pass through Joel Farabee to Teravainen.

That pretty much sealed the game. Hurricanes 3, Flyers 2.

"Starting with the guy batting it out of the air, probably managing it a little better, probably could have skated it, not have to get rid of it," Cates said. "Obviously he makes a nice play. Then the puck gets to the corner, kind of a little scrum in the corner, I kind of felt like I skated over it. Something happened with us down low and then a quick play and it's in the back of the net. That's how good that team is and why they're a top contender every year."

As Carolina celebrated, Cates was visibly upset with himself.

"No one had to say anything to Noah, you saw his reaction after," head coach John Tortorella said Tuesday. "I felt bad because he thrives in those situations. But everybody goes through it, everybody makes mistakes and he'll be better for it."

Perhaps it was a reminder that Cates, so sound and reliable at center, is playing in just his second full NHL season. The rebuilding Flyers want their young players to learn and grow this season. That includes the 24-year-old Cates.

"It's just so unlike Catesy, that's why everybody was kind of shocked," Tortorella said. "I think Catesy can just skate it out. He doesn't even have to make a pass. I talked to Catesy this morning, where he's more aggravated is he lost the puck in his feet. After the turnover, he still had a chance. It's like he kind of whiffed with his skate trying to move it to his stick. He said it was just so in tight that he lost it.

"But we can save the day, too, because the play goes through Beezer to Teravainen and he buries the puck. I still think we can stop that play with another defensive play.

"All you can do is take these as learning moments and try to get better in situations."

The Hurricanes have been one of the more structured and defensive-minded teams in the NHL over the past five years. Last season, they finished with the NHL's second-most points (113), behind only the Bruins (135).

Cates has taken away a lot just from playing against them.

"That's a team we want to kind of become like — they're so aggressive, they have such good sticks, their reloads, different things like that," he said. "Dangerous team and ultimately a team that we can kind of become with how aggressive they are and how we're trending and where we want to be.

"We've just got to learn. I think that's the biggest thing, learning from everything — learning from your mistakes, the wins, the losses, everything — is huge in this league."

Even if it takes a postgame YouTube search.

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