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John Tortorella’s plan for preseason games

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Tortorella’s ‘biggest battle,’ York eats a hit but shows poise and more on Flyers originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

VOORHEES, NJ — The Flyers held a pair of scrimmages on Day 2 of training camp Friday.

John Tortorella wasn’t putting much stock into them.

After all, there are 60-plus healthy players in the Flyers’ camp and Tortorella didn’t see any of them touch a single puck on Day 1.

He’s even just getting to know some of their names.

The head coach’s real roster evaluation will begin with exhibition action, which kicks off Saturday when the Flyers welcome the Bruins to the Wells Fargo Center (7 pm ET/NBCSP+).

“I’m not going to base decisions on intrasquad scrimmages like this,” Tortorella said Friday, “but it gives them a chance to play.

“That’s my biggest battle right now, is just getting familiar with the team and the personnel.”

Let’s get into three observations from Day 2 at Flyers Training Center.

The preseason plan

Tortorella will not be behind the bench for the Flyers’ first four preseason games. He’s going to watch from the top of the team’s management suite.

The plan is to have AHL affiliate head coach Ian Laperriere and his staff coach the first two exhibition matchups, then Flyers assistant coaches Brad Shaw, Rocky Thompson and Darryl Williams will coach the following two. Tortorella, along with his assistants, will coach the final two.

“That gives us an opportunity, at least for me, to really take a long look from upstairs,” he said. “Because I like looking at intangibles, I like looking at things that go on away from the play. And the only way you can see that is upstairs.”

Tortorella was not keeping an eye out for intangibles during the scrimmages.

“I want to wait until it’s against another team that they didn’t just have a breakfast with,” he said. “But I get to familiarize myself with the people.”

General manager Chuck Fletcher and his staff will put together the lineup for the first three preseason games.

“I give them the first three games because I think it’s important for them to see some of the kids,” Tortorella said. “Chuck’s in charge of the whole organization, he needs to kind of put pieces together as far as where they sit and give people opportunities. Chuck has done that. We’ve got three games, there may be some changes, but I like the management group to put those together.”

You can find the Flyers’ camp and preseason schedules right here.

Skating doesn’t stop

Each scrimmage was a little under an hour. The two teams that lost were shut out on the scoreboard.

After the scrimmages, each team went through approximately 30 minutes of drills, followed by more laps for conditioning.

“The way the camp’s designed, we have 13 or 14 players on each team,” Tortorella said. “So they just went through three hours of a lot of touches within the scrimmage, a lot of skating in the scrimmage, a lot of skating in practice, plus a pretty good conditioning skate. I’m really happy, I think our camp looks like it’s in pretty good shape. When you start getting to, probably Day 4, in that area, I think that’s when you see where guys really are conditioning-wise, how they recover.”

Nicolas Deslauriers got a shoutout Thursday from Tortorella about the winger’s “ugly as hell” performance in the skating gauntlet. He received further validation afterward. Sean Couturier, among others, buzzed Deslauriers’ phone about it.

“I got some text messages from the quote that he said it was ugly, but got the job done,” Deslauriers said with a smile. “I talked to Torts a lot on the phone and he told me it was going to be hard. I have no quit in my game. Might be ugly, might not be nice, but that’s how I work.

“But it was ugly.”

Catch me if you Cam

Fletcher mentioned the possibility of the Flyers having 10 players 25 years old or younger on their roster.

Cam York, the first draft pick made by this Flyers regime, is clearly one of those 10.

“To me, that’s the main storyline of this camp — let’s see what we have, let’s see how good these kids are,” the GM said Thursday.

There were a couple of under-the-radar sequences for York in the second scrimmage Friday.

As he went back for a puck, the 21-year-old defenseman took a heavy hit from Deslauriers. York is not a big guy (6-0/180), so surviving these types of checks when a forward is barreling down on him will be important.

Most often, York prides himself on avoiding these hits with quick and smart decision-making.

Later in the scrimmage, he showed good poise in orchestrating his team’s exit out of the defensive zone with a skilled play.

Those are qualities the Flyers need.

“I’m going to play the kids, I’ll tell you right now,” Tortorella said Thursday. “It doesn’t matter to me stature, draft pick, whatever it may be, what you’ve done before. … It’s kind of a clean slate with me because I really don’t know the players, I need to watch them.

“But I do feel, as an organization right now, we need to get a foundation underneath us here, we need to get it back on the rails. And we need to get a good foundation of what our kids are, so they’re going to get every opportunity. I’m not going to be afraid to put them into situations that maybe it might bump another guy out that thought he was going to be there.

“I think there needs to be a little bit of merit here as far as where everybody stands.”

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