97.5 The Fanatic Flyers Roundup: Cechmanek, Tanking, 4-Game Winning Streak
The Philadelphia Flyers have caught fire with a four-game winning streak approaching the first unofficial checkpoint of the NHL season at American Thanksgiving.
Their victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, the defending Stanley Cup champions, sent the Wells Fargo Center into euphoria on Saturday. It capped off a week that started with incredible misfortune after the news about the death of Roman Cechmanek.
Flyers Win 4 Straight
An embarrassing loss to the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 7 must’ve knocked something loose. The Flyers recovered to finish their California road trip with regulation victories over the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. They also impressed a national TV audience with a solid 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh on Wednesday.
Their best win of the season came in a 4-3 overtime thriller against Vegas in the Saturday matinee. The two teams traded blows in a wide-open game that needed more than 60 minutes to decide a winner. Sean Couturier scored on a fluttering puck one minute into the 3-on-3 session to improve Philadelphia’s record to 9-7-1.
A previously cringeworthy power play scored their first two goals against Vegas. Tyson Foerster finally got rid of his 2023-24 goose egg with the opening goal of the afternoon.
The Flyers won four consecutive games twice during the 2022-23 season, but they haven’t had a winning streak reach as many as five since their nine-game streak just before the Covid pause in March 2020.
The matinee against Vegas began with a heartfelt tribute to the late Roman Cechmanek. The former Flyers goaltender passed away on Nov. 12 in the Czech Republic.
Cechmanek burst onto the scene as a 29-year-old rookie in 2000-01 just over a year after the Flyers drafted him in the sixth round. He finished second in voting for the Vezina Trophy for the top NHL goaltender and fourth in Hart Trophy voting for the league MVP.
He played well during the regular season in 2001-02 and 2002-03. However, early playoff exits pushed the Flyers to make a change. They sent him to the Kings for a second-round draft pick in 2003. He played only one more NHL season before returning to Europe to finish his professional career.
The Flyers honored the late Roman Cechmanek with a moment of silence pic.twitter.com/qvW4V6AuU1— Colin Newby (@ToNewbyginnings) November 18, 2023
Tortorella Sounds Off About Rebuild
John Tortorella intends to put a competitive team on the ice. The organizational rebuild hasn’t changed that. The eye toward the future never included the intention to tank for the sake of NHL Draft Lottery odds.
“Stop sending me letters about tanking because it’s not going to happen…It’s so wrong, and it’s the worst way you can develop your young players.” -John Tortorella
The rebuild has more to do with developing young players within the organization. Tortorella talked about the balance the Flyers hope to strike between winning in 2023-24 and evaluating young players who can make long-term contributions.
“We have stated we’re rebuilding. I think when you state that, people think that, alright, we’re just going to pour all the young players in there. When you’re dealing with young players…in the landscape of this team, there is still a priority to teach young players how to win, what’s expected to help us win. You have developing versus winning. That’s something we’re going to juggle all year long.” -John Tortorella
Lineup decisions with young players like Bobby Brink, Morgan Frost, Egor Zamula, and Tyson Foerster have controlled the conversation early this season. The organization does not plan to draw a hard line between putting young players on the ice and trying to put together the most competitive possible lineup on a game-to-game basis.
Instead, Tortorella wants the proper overall view as part of a “constant evaluation” throughout the season. That evaluation will continue for a young team desperately holding onto a respectable early-season record.