Flyers analysis

Drawing from his Cup, Tortorella talks an ‘interesting dynamic' with Flyers

With 22 games left, the Flyers (31-22-7) have matched their win total from last season (31-38-13)

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VOORHEES, N.J. — As the Flyers publicly embraced a rebuild last summer, they made it clear that trying to win would not be forgotten.

After all, the organization has always gone for it. Competing is embroidered in the Flyers' logo.

Danny Briere, known for his postseason prowess as a player in Philadelphia, is the club's general manager. Before this season, he told his players "that every game, we expect them to win."

John Tortorella, as fiercely competitive as they come, is the Flyers' head coach. While understanding that time and growth are a part of the potion, he has always despised the concept of tanking.

So here the Flyers are, rebuilding this season but winning games in the process. They're 31-22-7 and in third place of the Metropolitan Division. And some of their youngest, most inexperienced players are driving things as the games have mattered more and more.

Perhaps the inexperience is a benefit down the stretch of a surprise playoff push. A youngster might not know any better than to just let loose and see what happens.

"I've always felt that," Tortorella said Thursday after practice. "I remember a long time ago, back in '04 when we won a Cup in Tampa with a really young team, we didn't have a clue what we were doing. We didn't have a clue what type of pressure should have been on us at that time, right?

"So I always weigh that — the veteran guys that have done it and understand what it takes and have gone through it and the pressure that comes with it versus a young guy that really is just playing. I'm not sure which is good. You always talk about experience versus that. At this time of year and when you get to the playoffs, I think there's a give and take there on both ways."

Tyson Foerster, a 22-year-old rookie, has four goals and five points in three games back from a right foot injury. Early in the third period Tuesday, he snapped a 1-1 tie with a goal on Andrei Vasilevskiy as the Flyers went on to beat the Lightning, 6-2.

Bobby Brink, another 22-year-old rookie, scored the game-opening goal in the victory. He had just returned to the big club that morning after being sent to the minors last month.

Morgan Frost, 24, and Noah Cates, 25, each had seven points in 10 February games as the Flyers finished 6-3-1. Owen Tippett, 25, had six points during the month, while Ryan Poehling, 25, had five points, including two shorthanded goals.

Cam York, a 23-year-old defenseman, was third on the Flyers in minutes per game (19:49), had four points and a plus-5 mark.

Including guys on injured reserve, Tortorella has 13 players who have never played in the NHL playoffs and 13 that are 25 years old or younger.

When his Lightning team won the Stanley Cup in 2004, Tampa Bay was in the playoffs for just the third time in franchise history. Tortorella was 45 years old and coaching just his second postseason run.

Nobody's claiming these Flyers are Stanley Cup bound. But their youthfulness hasn't shown in a bad way.

Tortorella called March a "crucial time for all teams." If the Flyers don't know exactly what's in store, maybe that's OK.

"It's a really good question because I lived it in Tampa," Tortorella said. "A coach that had never gone through it, me. I was opening the door. We were playing so free and playing so well, I just opened the door. And they didn't have a clue about pressure; they were having a blast. It's a really interesting question and interesting dynamic at this time of year."

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