97.5 The Fanatic Flyers Roundup: Bobby Brink Finding His Stride
The Philadelphia Flyers have impressively jumped out to a 4-2-1 record for the 2023-24 season. Bobby Brink stole the show in a 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 26. Meanwhile, Travis Sanheim has stabilized a weakened blue line.
Season expectations aren’t high, and the Flyers might not sustain the winning formula from their first seven games. However, the new front office and head coach John Tortorella have to be pleased with what they’ve seen out of the gates.
Philadelphia’s struggling power play came to life against the Wild with the help of Brink on the top unit. The former NCAA superstar lit the lamp for his first NHL goal midway through the second period.
He added another to put the Flyers ahead 5-2 in the third period against the team he grew up rooting for in Minnesota. He spoke about a lifetime of dreaming about his first goal at the game’s highest level.
“I’ve probably been doing it for 22 years now. It’s a pretty special moment. I’ve been thinking about it forever, a lot of years of hockey, a lot of stuff leading up to this moment…I’ve faced some adversity, and I think that adversity kind of makes it even more special.” -Bobby Brink
Brink didn’t look like he had a great chance to earn a spot on the roster entering training camp in September. However, he forced Tortorella and the staff to give him an opportunity.
The offensive breakout against Minnesota gives him two goals and two assists in six games in 2023-24. Morgan Frost remains out of the lineup as a healthy scratch. It doesn’t look like Tortorella is ready to sit Brink, Tyson Foerster, or any other forward for Frost just yet.
Sanheim Shouldering Top-Pair Minutes
Travis Sanheim has taken over as the top defenseman on a blue line in desperate need of a leader. He’s used his long, athletic stride to jump into the offensive rush. He’s also now taken over a role on the power play.
The 27-year-old was at the center of trade rumors over the summer, and he entered 2023-24 trying to keep his confidence in the first season of an eight-year contract that will keep him in Philadelphia through 2030-31.
He has led Flyers skaters in ice time in all seven games in 2023-24, and he ranks second on the team with eight points (one goal, seven assists). Fans have worried about the potential albatross of the contract down the road. In a small sample size, so far so good for Travis Sanheim.
Shuffling the Flyers Blue Line
The defensemen on the active roster are in flux. The Flyers announced an extended absence for Rasmus Ristolainen this week, and Marc Staal will be out of the lineup until at least late November.
They also sent Emil Andrae to the AHL after four NHL games in his first season in North America.
“It’s too much for him right now. The speed of it, how quickly you have to make decisions. I think the size of the rink which comes into play (with) how quickly you do have to play in the NHL. If you just weigh it out, is this good for him right now? We felt it was.” -John Tortorella
The Flyers called up Louie Belpedio and Victor Mete from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to take the place of the 21-year-old Swede.