Whenever Rasmus Ristolainen sees fellow Finns, he tries to “put them through the wall.”
Even friendship doesn’t hold Ristolainen back, and with three Finnish skaters — Sebastian Aho, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Teuvo Teräväinen — and injured Finnish goalie Antti Raanta on the Carolina Hurricanes roster, Ristolainen will be working to drive up his average of three hits per game.
“They know me,” Ristolainen said. “They know I’m trying to hit them even harder.”
James van Riemsdyk said this attitude doesn’t seem to be unique to Ristolainen.
“That’s actually, with the Finns, I’ve noticed that the most,” van Riemsdyk said. “It was almost like you knew how good of a friend you were with [Leo Komarov] if he tried to basically take your head off out there. So Finns are weird like that.”
Despite the “fun” of hitting his fellow countrymen, Ristolainen can’t let himself or his teammates get distracted. He knows well that to beat the 10-1 Hurricanes, currently the top team in the NHL, it will require the Flyers to play a tight game.
Like the Flyers, they play a fast game, Joel Farabee said.
“Everywhere you look, they’ve got quality players in good roles and seem to really have a good identity of what they want to play and the style they want to play,” van Riemsdyk said.
Farabee and van Riemsdyk have not skated together since the preseason, but after one practice they feel they’re already clicking well.
When the Flyers began training camp, Farabee was on the third line with van Riemsdyk and Scott Laughton. But shortly into camp, he flip-flopped with Oskar Lindblom and joined Cam Atkinson and Derick Brassard’s line.
In an attempt to spark the offense after getting shut out by the Maple Leafs, coach Alain Vigneault decided to tweak some things.
At practice Thursday, Farabee moved back to van Riemsdyk and Laughton’s line, where he played during the 2019-2020 season. He said he feels very comfortable there and thinks they all bring skill sets that complement one another. Van Riemsdyk agreed.
“Like he mentioned, we all kind of bring something a little bit different to the table, but I think that the key for all of us was that we all kind of have that hockey IQ to really make sure that we’re in the right spots,” van Riemsdyk said. “I think the way we all read off each other is what gives us a chance to have some success. So hopefully we can pick up with where we left off last year.”
Braydon Coburn, a 16-year NHL veteran and former Flyers defenseman, announced his retirement. Cobourn played for the Flyers from 2006 to 2015. He won a Stanley Cup while with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020. Van Riemsdyk said Coburn was a great example for him. “He was a big part of those teams when I was here those first three years and had a great career,” van Riemsdyk said. “Was able to win a Cup a couple of years ago, so definitely happy for him to see that. I definitely respected the way he went about his business and the way he was able to play for such a long time and be as successful as he was. ... The Flyers placed forward Nicolas Aubé-Kubel on waivers Friday. Vigneault said it was a hard decision driven by the Flyers’ need for cap space. “Unfortunately, we’re in a bit of a jam from injuries that happened at training camp to players that weren’t here last year,” Vigneault said.