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John Tortorella replaces Kevin Hayes for Flyers vs. Rangers

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VOORHEES, NJ – The Flyers are scoring 2.39 goals per game, third lowest in the NHL.

They scored two or fewer goals 18 times in 31 games.

They have won three of their last 19 games (3-11-5), during which time they have scored just 2.16 goals per game.

With the Flyers’ opportunity to win back-to-back games for the first time since November 5–8, John Tortorella replaced their top scorer. Kevin Hayes, who has 29 points in 31 games, will be a healthy scratch on Saturday when the Flyers take on his former team, the Rangers, at the Wells Fargo Center (7 pm ET/NBCSP).

The decision comes after Tortorella sat Hayes for the entire third period of Thursday’s Flyers’ 2-1 win over the Devils at the Prudential Center. It was the second time the coach had glued Hayes to the pine tree for a full third period.

After Thursday’s game, Tortorella declined to explain his decision to put Hayes in the third period of a 1-1 game.

“Oh, I won’t talk [about that]”, Tortorella said. ′′ It was my decision not to play him, but I won’t get too involved in it.”

The head coach remained tight-lipped Saturday morning about the reasoning behind his decision to bench Hayes against the Rangers.

“That’s between Kevin and me,” Tortorella said.

Hayes participated in the Flyers’ morning skate. He declined to comment.

The 30-year-old forward committed a turnover in the neutral zone late in the second period against New Jersey.

Tortorella moved Hayes from center to wing in late November because of his struggles in the defensive zone.

“He knows,” said the head coach then. “Kevin is trying. This is not a stubborn player. He cares and is trying to be the best he can be. I think he has bad habits. It’s not just one year, two years, it’s probably throughout his career. “

When Hayes sat through the third period of the Flyers’ 3-0 loss to the Sharks in October, he didn’t feel a conversation with Tortorella was absolutely necessary. Both Tortorella and Hayes quickly turned the page. Hayes responded the next game with two assists in the Flyers’ 4-3 victory over the Panthers.

“I respect everything that Torts brings to this room, I respect all of his ideas and all of his training material,” Hayes said on October 27. “Obviously when you’re benched you don’t agree with him. I think I’ll agree with a coach who benches me.

“I don’t think I would look for a coach in Game 6. I don’t think the timing is right, he’s a new coach, we’re getting to know each other. I would be a little more concerned if that was Game 30 or – I would probably look for him then. Game 6, it’s early in the season, I think I’m doing some things right. We haven’t talked a lot, but I think that’s a good thing.”

Tortorella opened up a bit about how to balance the decision to scratch a player like Hayes, knowing that the Flyers, who need offense, are losing their score.

“It’s a big picture in my mind as far as the team concept goes,” said Tortorella. “Again, I don’t want to get into a long conversation about this, but it’s a legitimate question.

“I’ll put it this way – I can’t keep looking at things because we’re worried about scoring. I have to look at the big picture of what this team is going to be, what the standard is for how we have to play. attack in a specific game. I’ll give you that.”

Hayes leads the Flyers in points (29), assists (20) and shots (89). He entered Saturday projected to finish with a career-high 24 goals and 77 points in 82 games.

Turns out he won’t play all 82 games. He will sit tonight as the Flyers try to score without him.

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