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March 21, 2023

Flyers notebook: No mood to play spoiler, Egor Zamula gets another look

"It's a bunch of bulls***," Flyers coach John Tortorella said of playing spoiler the rest of the way. "We're just gonna play our game."

The Flyers have the Florida Panthers, a team hovering on the playoff bubble, on deck Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. 

This late in the season, and with the Flyers all but officially out of it, they can play spoiler under this scenario, for sure. But John Tortorella isn't all too interested in that...or rather, not at all.

"It's a bunch of bulls***," the Flyers' head coach said Tuesday from the team's training facility in Voorhees. "We're just gonna play our game and, as we have, just play hard. I never talk about spoiling. I want us to continue to work on our game."

Meanwhile, he and the organization will keep taking stock of what they have the rest of the way, including their latest call-up...

• Defensive prospect Egor Zamula was brought up from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Monday. He'll play Tuesday night against Florida and is expected to get a look with the NHL club through the rest of the week – they'll play Minnesota on Thursday then Detroit on Saturday, both at home. 

Like with Tyson Foerster and any other AHL prospect in line for a call-up, the Flyers are trying to strike the right balance between getting Zamula NHL reps and experience in a playoff push, which the Phantoms are in the midst of right now

The Phantoms won't play again until Sunday though, so they'll use one of their recalls to see what Zamula can do. 

A big defenseman at 6-foot-3, the Flyers like the 22-year-old for his vision of the ice and his ability to use his size to take away space, but he's a prospect that needs a lot more work, especially after struggling in a previous stint with the Flyers earlier this season. But, to be fair, bigger defenseman like Zamula often take the longest to develop, and the Flyers appear to have the patience for him.

The Flyers will be rolling with seven defensemen Tuesday night, and Tortorella said assistant coach Brad Shaw is likely to move Zamula up and down the defensive pairings to see how he does. 

"He's gonna get moved around, especially with 7 D," Tortorella said. "We certainly want to get a good look at him."

• Foerster collected his first NHL point with an assist on Joel Farabee's goal Friday night against Buffalo, then finally notched that first goal of his own with a laser that slipped under the blocker of Frederik Andersen on Saturday night against Carolina. The Flyers threw him right into the fire upon his call-up, and through the first several games against the Hurricanes, Penguins, and Golden Knights, he did well to keep up. Now, on the ice and on the scoresheet as a result, the top prospect is starting to show up. 

• Staying on Carolina, Saturday night was the fourth and final game of the season series between the two, and it was a gut punch for the Flyers. They battled and had the Hurricanes backed into a corner in the final seconds but gave up the tying goal with just 0.3 remaining on the clock. They went into overtime, and Sebastian Aho went right up the ice to top off a hat trick right away. 

The Flyers lost all four games to Carolina this season, and all of them have been by one goal. For as much of a struggle as this season has been, in a way, it's encouraging that they were able to keep up with one of the NHL's better teams. But at the same time, it also paints a picture of just how far they have to go, especially in finding a true star that can just take over a game like Aho. 

Still, little victories. It's what seasons like these ultimately end up being about. 

"There's absolutely no negative thought in my mind in losing the game, it sucked," Tortorella said after practice Monday. "It took me a full day – I'm still not over it for them, to win a couple in a row which we haven't done for quite a while. 

"But things happen for a reason, so we teach. There are so many good things that happened in the game, so many good things with some of our young kids. That's what we grab a hold of."

• Adidas' uniform contract with the NHL expires after next season and they won't be renewing. Taking over, on a 10-year agreement, is the worst option possible: Fanatics

A deal like this has been brewing for a while. Although Nike's logo appears on MLB uniforms, it's actually Fanatics that produces them (which is why the Phillies didn't have their cream alternates to start last season because they couldn't get made quick enough), and while Adidas does make the NHL jerseys right now, they're pretty hands off on league apparel otherwise, with Fanatics handling all the locker room and off-ice gear. 

Even so, if you're a sports fan that has ordered anything from a major sports league's online shop in the past few years (because Fanatics runs all of them somehow), you already know this is bad news for the future of hockey jerseys, sparked by a long-running and well-deserved reputation of terrible customer service and really poor quality control. 

Maybe Fanatics gets their act together with this deal.

Or maybe all the logos will be laughably off-center. 

From past experience, I'm betting on the latter. 

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