How the Gritty Grinders are changing the Flyers culture

Flyers (Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Flyers (Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports) /

Every team needs a superstar. Every team needs “that guy” who can turn around to the bench and say, “Follow me! We got this!”. As Philadelphia sports fans, we’ve seen that this year with Bryce Harper leading the charge for the Phillies and Jalen Hurts being the man for the Eagles.

The Flyers don’t seem to have that guy yet. Although to be honest with you, Travis Konecny looks like the guy who would fill that role. But some teams load up on talent on their front lines but ignore the others. That’s a mistake. Good teams, like the Carolina Hurricanes, foster a mentality that each of their lines is important and a threat.

Good teams have good lines (no….really?) throughout their lineup. And if you have been paying attention, the Flyers have developed one of the nastiest fourth lines in the league right now. I call them the Gritty Grinders. These are the sorts of guys who will go out every single day and do what is asked of them. Not all of these guys are fourth-liners. One is a defender. But I present to you the guys who are making this team competitive: Zack MacEwen, Nic Deslauriers, Patrick Brown, Nick Seeler, and Noah Cates.

The Flyers are building a nice foundation for a brighter future

When Coach John Tortorella took over, he said that one of the things he wanted to do was change the culture of this team. He never elaborated on it, but you can sense what he meant was watching a team that had this talent just give up on games. We saw that last year. But the time the third period came on, even if they were ahead, you knew things would fall apart. Not this year. Even in their losses, even during that 10-game losing streak, the Flyers battled until that final horn blasted.

If you look at the stats of the Gritty Grinders, the numbers won’t jump off the page at you:

Games Played          Goals            Assists           Points          Penalty Minutes

MacEwen                              37                         4                       5                     9                          38
Deslauriers                           41                         2                       5                     7                          68
Brown                                    22                         1                       3                     4                             4
Seeler                                    38                          3                       5                     8                          30
Cates                                      41                          5                    12                   17                           2

But let’s look at some other stats:

Avg. Time on Ice        Blocks               Hits         Takeaways          Giveaways

MacEwen                            13:08                       19                  113                     7                          10
Deslauriers                         10:25                       13                  168                     6                           5
Brown                                  11:24                       18                     62                     3                           4
Seeler                                   14:19                       61                    57                     2                           6
Cates                                    17:45                       34                    61                   26                        10

These guys are not giving up the puck. In Cates’s case, he is creating turnovers. They are physically punishing the other teams they are playing against. They are battling in the corners and doing what they can to stymie the opposition.

Are they the best players on the team? No. However, Cates is starting to play above his potential and is flourishing under Tortorella. There have been several games in that Deslauriers has whipped up and inspired his teammates after getting into a fight. Seeler has been a pretty reliable defender this year. MacEwen has been a steady fourth-liner and Brown has done well since missing the first half of the season.

More importantly, these guys are doing all of the little things that Torts has been asking this team to do since day one. They are hustling, chasing after the pucks. They are not giving up on the play. They have bought into what Coach has been telling them.

As a result, you haven’t seen these guys get a public earful like some of the others have been. Instead, you see these guys getting a lot more playing time than a fourth-liner should. Likewise, you saw Cates getting the call to move up in the lineup and he has taken full advantage of that.

There are many reasons that the Flyers have been turning things around since Christmas. The Gritty Grinders are a major part of it. Yes, Konecny and others are scoring the goals and getting the big plays. But someone else is there making sure the other team can’t make the big plays.

Broad Street Buzz
Broad Street Buzz /

Want your voice heard? Join the Broad Street Buzz team!

Write for us!

Someone else is doing the little things to set up the bigger things. Their contribution can’t be overlooked. It’s creating a ripple effect and you can see it seeping into the hearts and souls of their teammates. This team is on the cusp of doing something awesome. Just keep watching.