In his fourth game with the Philadelphia Flyers, Owen Tippett faced off against the top team in the NHL, snagged the puck and took off down the ice on a breakaway.
While Colorado Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz made the stop, that moment, as well as five additional shots on goal from Tippett, was a highlight in an otherwise dismal game for the Flyers and a hint of what the Flyers hope he’ll add to the lineup.
Tippett was part of the trade package from the Florida Panthers for Claude Giroux. The Flyers also received two draft picks, but Tippett was the only player to physically join the team. Tippett is well aware of Giroux’s legacy and arrived in Philadelphia with the intention of playing his own game instead of trying to compare himself to the departed captain.
Immediately after arriving, Tippett was thrown onto the ice with his new teammates. He had no practice time and no bonding time. Interim coach Mike Yeo said he told Tippett to just play his game and not worry too much about mistakes in these early games.
“We got plenty of time to teach systems and the details of your game and everything,” Yeo said. “Show us what you got.”
Tippett thinks his strength lies in his strength, shot and speed, so he’s tried to demonstrate that across his first four games. In his first, he had a strong performance through 14 minutes, 38 seconds of ice time. He had two shots on goal, helping the Flyers win their first game without Giroux.
The next game, Tippett’s minutes increased to 18:09, and he once again had two shots on goal in the loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Tippett’s time increased a little bit more the following game, up to 18:13, and Yeo said he “brought that energy, brought that excitement.” While he only had one shot on goal in the win over the St. Louis Blues, he scored his first point with an assist on Patrick Brown’s goal.
“That’s a weight off your chest, for sure,” Tippett said. “Obviously, getting a point, kind of taking a deep breath after that, it went a long way.”
Tippett’s relationship with line partner Morgan Frost has helped ease his transition. The two are 23-year-olds from Ontario who grew up playing against each other. They also had the chance to play together on Team Canada in the World Juniors.
Frost reached out as soon as he heard news of the trade. Since Frost plays center and left wing and he plays right wing, Tippett knew there was a possibility they could play on a line together. It happened in his very first game as a Flyer. Even as he was finding his legs, the chemistry was apparent, and Yeo said he liked what he saw. Tippett and Frost both said their familiarity with each other goes a long way and that their styles of play go well together.
“One way we can complement each other’s just the way he’s able to make those quick plays in tight and I’m able to get the shot off,” Tippett said.
Heading into his fifth game, Tippett still hadn’t participated in a Flyers practice. With the team’s schedule the rest of the season, there aren’t many opportunities for the Flyers to practice together. The road trip has helped, Tippett said, because it’s allowed for bonding. In addition to Frost, he already knew former Florida Panthers Keith Yandle and Kevin Connauton, and he said the rest of the team has been welcoming.
While Tippett is well aware of the struggles the team has faced this season, he sees it as an opportunity for a fresh start, and he thinks the Flyers have the tools for future success. He hopes to be a part of that future.
“It’s only been a few games, but I’m still, you know, getting comfortable and getting used to playing with all the guys,” Tippett said. “So I think there’s definitely more to my game that I can bring.
“I want to be able to do whatever I can to help the team take the next step and help the team win.”