Connect with us

Flyers News

Flyers Recall Brink Amidst Offensive Struggles

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

The Philadelphia Flyers recalling Olle Lycksell over Bobby Brink ahead of their afternoon matinee against the Pittsburgh Penguins shouldn’t have come as a surprise. The club was looking for a full complement of forwards and bringing Lycksell back into the mix was easier than a couple of the other options. Without Travis Konecny again, the Flyers would be leaning on players like Owen Tippett, Sean Couturier, and Joel Farabee a lot more.

Many were hoping that Brink or even Samu Tuomaala would get the call, but Lycksell is very seldom used whenever he’s inserted into the lineup. The Flyers have reiterated several times in the past that they don’t want prospects like Brink languishing in a true bottom-6 role, unfortunately that doesn’t bode well for players like Lycksell. However with the Flyers languishing offensively, Lycksell provided a bit of a spark against Pittsburgh and he earned 2 assists and skated 12:44 TOI.

With Rasmus Ristolainen officially being placed on IR and Jamie Drysdale out on a week-to-week basis, the Flyers called up Brink after a short stint with the Phantoms that provided the youngster to gather his confidence before his eventual return.

Brink was sent down to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on the 22nd of January as a way to get him more playing time, regain his confidence, and get back that bit of swagger we saw from him at the beginning of the 2023-24 season. Safe to say it worked out in short order as Brink has scored 6 goals and 11 points in just 11 games, including 2 goals – overtime winner – and 3 points in their comeback victory on Saturday against Charlotte.

Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft – a move in which the Flyers traded up to select him – Brink excelled in his time at the University of Denver. He scored 35 points in 43 games across his first 2 seasons before posting 57 points in 41 games in 2021-22. He was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and he made the leap straight to the NHL where he tallied 4 points in 10 games. He looked very confident and comfortable in his short stint with the club and with several question marks surrounding the team heading into the summer, Brink had a legitimate shot at cracking the opening night roster.

Unfortunately for Brink, he suffered a torn labrum in his left hip and had to undergo surgery during the off-season. The injury was going to keep him sidelined for 6 months and he was finally cleared to return in January of 2023. Due to the severity of the injury and the fact that he had to go through a lengthy rehab, Brink was assigned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and remained there for the final stretch. The Phantoms surprisingly made the post-season and Brink played a big factor in that playoff push as he scored 12 goals and 28 points in 41 games.

The Flyers were very hesitant in making call-ups at the end of their downtrodden season because they didn’t want to take away from the Phantoms run nor did they want to take certain players out of their increased roles. Brink was essentially tasked to get back on track in the final 41 games and he showed out in a big way. He entered training camp this year with a real shot at making the roster but had to impress John Tortorella and company.

Brink’s playing style did just that, the diminutive forward stands in at just 5’8” and 170 pounds but he plays like he’s 6’0” tall and 200 pounds. He goes into the corners, he battles along the boards, he’s not afraid to use his body, and he always finds his way into the dirty areas. That’s the Tortorella way and he impressed his coaching staff from the get-go. There were concerns that the Flyers would have to choose between Tyson Foerster and Brink with the additions of Garnet Hathaway and Ryan Poehling.

The Rasmus Ristolainen IR placement at the beginning of the season not only helped defensemen like Emil Andrae and Egor Zamula, but it allowed the Flyers to roll with both Foerster and Brink as well. After going pointless in his first 2 games, Brink went on to score 4 goals and 11 points in his next 16. He averaged 15:30 TOI, he fired 21 shots, had 2 power play goals, 1 game winning goal, and played a very responsible game that allowed him to eclipse 17 minutes of ice-time 7 times in that 16-game stretch.

The offense dried up in his last 20 games, he was made a healthy scratched a few times as well, and his ice-time dropped from nearly 16 minutes a game to 13:32. He had 3 goals and 7 points, was still a plus-6, but was no longer a major factor on the man advantage, and was barely averaging a shot per game. His overall game did tail off a little as would be the case for an NHL rookie but his demotion to the minors was more so a way to get his confidence back.

With Cam Atkinson mired in a 11-game point drought, Joel Farabee in an 11-game scoring slump with just 3 assists and a -11 rating, and Sean Couturier admittedly struggling offensively since being appointed his captaincy and beyond with just 1 goal in his last 12 games, John Tortorella is without answers. Konecny remains out of the lineup for the third straight game and their hope is that Brink’s addition to the lineup  provides some sort of a spark – primarily because Tortorella put his lines through a blender at morning skate.

Farabee – Frost – Brink

Cates – Poehling – Hathaway

Tippett – Laughton – Atkinson

Deslauriers – Couturier – Lycksell

Of note, Tortorella decided not to break up the Noah Cates, Ryan Poehling, Garnet Hathaway line that has provided the club with some jam over the last two weeks as they’ve seen their ice time increase to upwards of 15-16 minutes a night. Tyson Foerster, who briefly exited Sunday’s game but returned and added a late marker, was not present at practice and Nicolas Deslauriers was seen more as a placeholder for the rookie. While Atkinson remained on the ice after practice working with skills coach Angelo Ricci, denoting that he might be made a healthy scratch tonight if Foerster can play.

It also remains to be seen if these lines stick because Tortorella has a tendency to make on-the-fly changes quite often but for the time being, they’re not running with conventional first lines, second lines, third lines like most teams. It’s a work in progress to get back on the board, it’s a motivational tool to wake certain players up, and most importantly it’s trying to change things up amidst struggles.

Brink will have plenty of opportunities to show his worth in the next coming days. It’s going to be a tall task starting with a game against Tampa Bay, a team that has beaten the Flyers in 13 of their last 15 matchups, followed by a back-to-back set over the weekend against Washington and Ottawa.

The Flyers need a wake-up call to get their act back together after losing ground in the playoff race over the weekend and even in the last 2 weeks – going 1-3-1. Without Konecny in the lineup, it’s going to be tough but they showed their mettle over the weekend that their grit and grind can get them on the board and keep them in games against some of the best teams.

Flyers fan born in the heart of Leafs nation

More in Flyers News