The Philadelphia Flyers were expected to be among the worst teams in the NHL this season, but head coach John Tortorella has been getting the most out of his new club, posting a 6-3-2 record out of the gate.
It's still very early, but the Flyers surprisingly find themselves in the playoff hunt in a Metropolitan Division that looks significantly deeper than last year. Travis Konecny and Kevin Hayes have been leading the way offensively while goaltender Carter Hart and the defense corps have allowed the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference.
Philadelphia's performance is even more impressive when you consider injured stars Sean Couturier, Cam Atkinson and Ryan Ellis have missed the entire season to this point, while forward James van Riemsdyk will miss at least another month after undergoing finger surgery.
While Tortorella has plenty to be pleased about, there is one player who isn't playing up to the 64-year-old's standards. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen missed the first six games of the season with an unspecified lower-body injury and has been held without a point with a minus-4 rating in the four contests he's suited up in.
That's simply not good enough for Torts.
“He just hasn’t met expectations,” Tortorella said on Monday. “He needs to play better. I’m not going to go that much deeper into it, but I don’t think he’s played well enough. He’s going to get another crack at it. But in everything about his game, I think he needs to be better.”
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) November 7, 2022
Tortorella said Ristolainen's previous injury has not impacted his performance and would not commit to slotting the 28-year-old Finn into the lineup for Tuesday's matchup with the St. Louis Blues.
Ristolainen has been a polarizing figure since joining the Flyers in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres in July 2021. Philadelphia sent the 14th-overall pick in the 2021 draft to Buffalo in the deal, along with defenseman Robert Hagg and a 2023 second-round selection. Many felt the acquisition cost was too high and his ensuing five-year, $25.5 million contract extension was an overpay.
At least he'll be getting paid handsomely while he's in Tortorella's doghouse.
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