VOORHEES, N.J. — With a large crowd looking on Saturday, a not-too-happy John Tortorella made his way downstairs and brought the action to a halt.
The Flyers' head coach wasn't pleased with the second scrimmage of the morning. Abandoning his perch, Tortorella huddled the two groups together, farthest away from the fans as possible, and gave his campers what looked like a solid earful.
Pick it up.
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The action continued and the Flyers went on to wrap up Day 3 of training camp, which included an event for the team's season-ticket holders.
Let's get into three observations from the latest at Flyers Training Center.
Ticking off Torts
Tortorella was fine with Saturday's opening scrimmage. There was energy, there was physicality, there was tension.
The second scrimmage ...
"It sucked," Tortorella said. "But the first group was good."
What did he say to wake up his players?
"I said it to them, not to you," Tortorella said.
It's not the first time Tortorella has broken up a scrimmage in his coaching career. Sometimes it's needed when teammates are asked to be opponents.
"I don't think it's uncommon," Tortorella said. "Because now they're all down there eating together and they chum around together, I get that. But you still have to get your work in. And I just don't think we were anywhere near being busy enough in that scrimmage. I thought it was better as it moved along. It's not about hurting anybody or doing something stupid, but you need to get your work in. I just felt the first part of that, they weren't."
First shot at top pair?
Cam York had an excellent day. He sniped a pair of goals. The first one was from distance on Carter Hart after York maneuvered the blue line to find a lane.
It sure sounds like the Flyers want to give the 22-year-old defenseman a chance to be a top-pair guy on his natural side. York on Saturday played alongside the right-handed Rasmus Ristolainen. That could be the Flyers' top-pair look to open the preseason.
"I thought Risto was probably one of our most improved players last year," Tortorella said. "Where the pairings settle, I don't know."
The Flyers know York is a massive part of their future as they try to find some homegrown stability on the back end. Tortorella has mentioned the responsibility of developing the 2019 first-round pick by putting him in the right spots.
"I know what I want and it's to obviously play a big role, play big minutes every night," York said Friday. "My goal this week is just to try and earn that."
After opening last season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, York was called up in December and never went back down. He played 19:39 minutes per game and had 20 points (two goals, 18 assists) over 54 games. Tortorella thought York took a dip down the stretch and that part of it was because the Flyers played him on his off side.
"Yorky's one I thought, came up after the minor leagues when he was sent down, played really well," Tortorella said. "I thought he settled into kind of a lousy spot, I just don't think he played that well the last quarter, so he has some work to do, too. Has shown some decent signs here."
Ristolainen would embrace more minutes this season.
"Everyone wants to play as much as possible," he said. "So far, I've really enjoyed playing with Yorky."
The bruising defenseman had a busy scrimmage against the Flyers' projected fourth line of Nicolas Deslauriers, Ryan Poehling and Garnet Hathaway. At one point, Deslauriers and Hathaway got into a shoving match with Ristolainen. To York's credit, the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder didn't shy away from putting himself into the scuffle to defend his partner.
Ristolainen and Deslauriers were teammates in Buffalo when they both entered the NHL.
"We know each other from 10 years ago," Ristolainen said, "so it's always good battles and it was one of those today."
Big day on the bubble
Roster hopefuls Tanner Laczynski and Wade Allison had strong performances in the first scrimmage.
Laczynski is a 26-year-old center who played 32 games for the Flyers last season as a rookie. He had a goal and an assist in the scrimmage. The bottom-six option was especially active in his forecheck and getting to the net.
Allison, a winger also fighting for his role, scored the goal that was assisted by Laczynski and did a lot of good things.
"We're two bubble players, right?" Allison said. "So we've got to make a push for the lineup and show them that we belong there and that we deserve to be here. I thought it was a good day for both of us."
Laczynski, Allison and 21-year-old prospect Tyson Foerster are battling for what very well could be the final forward spot in the Flyers' season-opening lineup. So far, Foerster has played on a line with Noah Cates and Scott Laughton.
"There's no gray area as far as where players sit a little bit here, especially [Laczynski and Allison]," Tortorella said. "I don't think it needs to be explained to them. I'm not going to keep reminding people. They're going to eventually have to take it upon themselves. That's the only way you find out about people, if they decide to accept a challenge in the position they are in this organization. I don't think I have to remind too many people."
Allison, who played 60 games last season, has no problem with competition.
"I don't want anything handed to me," he said. "I want to work for it. That's what I've got here at this camp, that's what I got at last camp, it's what I've had my whole life. This is just part of it now, this is just how it goes, it's how I expect it to be."
• Sean Couturier's defensive game is elite.
• Tortorella wants to see players not be afraid to make mistakes but manage the risks.
"We have it written down there, 'Safe is death,'" Tortorella said. "We don't want to be safe. But there are certain times you may have to just settle yourself back down and make an easy play. And then you get your game back going, then you make that play through two people and we get going offensively.
"It's a game of mistakes. It's gotten younger and there are so many mistakes. You've got to live with them and you've got to turn away. If you don't turn away, you're going to lose your mind and then you're going to buckle up your players where they're tightening up their sticks."
The "safe is death" motto was born in Tampa Bay when Tortorella coached the Lightning. Craig Ramsay, the former Flyers coach and Tortorella's assistant in Tampa Bay, coined the phrase.
"He had a unique way of coaching through storytelling and those type of one-liners and stuff like that, he was so good that way with the players," Tortorella said. "I learned a ton from him. Two different coaches. I'm at you and he's telling stories and all that. He was so good for me. He had some really good thoughts about trying to change the mindset of an athlete."
• Prospect Zayde Wisdom scored his second goal in as many days.
Egor Zamula, vying for a spot in the Flyers' defensive picture, also netted a goal on a sharp deke.
• Deslauriers was hitting everything in sight during the first scrimmage. Similar to Deslauriers, Hathaway is a team-first guy that likes to get under the skin of the opponent.
"That line has played pretty good," Tortorella said. "Hathaway has impressed me right from the get-go. He knows how to do it one way and that is hard all the time. It's a big reason why we really zeroed in on him because he'll be a great example for some of our kids."