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Chuck Fletcher on Flyers: “We expect to work hard, be a more competitive team”

The Philadelphia Flyers were not a good hockey team during the 2021-22 campaign, but luckily for the current group of players, a new veteran head coach is behind the bench to help set a new standard within the franchise.

John Tortorella replaced Mike Yeo this summer as the Flyers head coach, bringing a new and lively atmosphere around the team. The 64-year-old is now in his fifth stop as the NHL head coach, now managing a team that he has many memories playing against as a former head coach in New York, Tampa Bay, Columbus, and Vancouver.

Tortorella’s aggressive nature as a head coach should help the Flyers improve on last season’s struggles, which eventually led to the team finishing in the top six for fewest goals scored and most goals allowed. Plenty of veteran faces and returning starters are back on Broad Street this fall, giving the Flyers a lot of familiarity with one another and how they want to play.

“In terms of expectations, it’s exactly what John and I have been saying,” Flyers president and GM Chuck Fletcher said. “We expect to work hard this season. We expect to work hard at establishing a standard to which we’re going to be held on and off the ice. We’re expecting to defend much better, play harder away from the puck, be a more competitive team.

“Clearly we got to reduce our goals against,” Fletcher added. “That’s something that you can control through hard work and structure and attention to detail, and that’s an area that coaches have been focused on in camp and we’ve spoken about a lot internally. To me, I’d like to see significant improvement in our compete, in our details, keeping the puck out of our net, allowing our goaltenders to see the puck a little cleaner. If we can do that, we’ll be a pretty competitive team.”

The Flyers have plenty of key players returning this season including Cam Atkinson, Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny, and Ivan Provorov. Sean Couturier and Ryan Ellis remained sidelined with injuries, but several offseason acquisitions will fight for minutes in Tortorella’s system.

Egor Zamula, Noah Cates, and Ronnie Attard are all players that have made Tortorella’s 23-player roster and will be fighting to stay there long-term. Samuel Ersson is a new back-up goaltender to No. 1 option Carter Hart and will be there to push Hart to get back to his best in goal.

Overall, the Flyers will be challenging to get back among the Metropolitan’s best teams, and remain confident in their abilities to do so ahead of Thursday’s season-0pening game vs. the New Jersey Devils.

“Well, the strengths – this is a young, fast team,” Fletcher said. “There’s 12 players on the 23-man roster that are 25 and under, I think 9 of them are 24 and under, so they’re a little bit unproven. That’s something we’re going to have to work through that Torts has been addressing, I think with you guys as well. We have a lot of work to do, but there’s a lot of upside, so I think the youth, the speed, the depth – we have really good depth this year, much better than we have the last two years, so if we do run into injuries, which seem to happen through the course of the season, I think we have a lot of kids down in Lehigh Valley we can call up.

“We have a lot of work to do,” he added. “We know that, we’ve been saying that. The players have been working hard. I’m sure some things, some of the systems play, specialty teams even, early in the season we’re going to have to work through some things. There’s great energy down there right now. I think the players are recharged after last season and I think everyone’s just excited to get playing.”

The Flyers face New Jersey at the Wells Fargo Center before hosting the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.

You can follow Larry Henry on Twitter (@lhenry019) and e-mail him at [email protected].

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