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‘That’s a major concern of mine’ — Tortorella trying to find right message originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

NEW YORK — John Tortorella is not immune to pressure.

Outside pressure probably doesn’t do much to him, but the internal pressure of a coach searching for answers is real.

A little over a week ago, an impassioned Tortorella felt he had “done a sh–ty job” in trying to get his young Flyers team to a different level, the level needed to close out a playoff push. Since then, the Flyers have watched a season-worst skid balloon to eight games with three more losses. The last two have been disastrous, games decided by a combined score of 15-5 against teams toward the bottom of the NHL standings.

The Flyers went from surviving a brutal seven-game stretch against contenders to, for some reason, completely losing their way. In the six games to follow, they’ve been outscored 32-12. The most recent defeat: a 9-3 demoralizer to the Canadiens in Montreal.

“Coaches are always worried about what’s going on with their team,” Tortorella said Thursday morning, ahead of the Flyers’ game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). “Are we doing things the proper way, are they getting the right message? Obviously, after the seven games of what we thought was going to be the really hard part, we just have not been consistent. So I worry about my message to them. That’s been a concern of mine here for a couple of weeks now in making sure we’re giving them the right information. Are we giving them too much? Is it not enough? How’s the approach? All that. That’s a major concern of mine and obviously we haven’t gotten to the right message or the time of the message, whatever it may be, to help us try to win these games.”

With three games to go, the Flyers are hoping to stave off elimination from the postseason race. They entered the season embracing a rebuild. Before falling into this eight-game losing streak, they had surprised everyone by holding down third place in the Metropolitan Division for over two months. But now they have a 2.3 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Hockey-Reference.com’s probabilities report.

“There’s no sense of beating them up,” Tortorella said. “There are certain times in the season when you’re trying to get guys going and trying to figure out who they are and where their game’s at. Not now. We have to do this together. I’m still going to ask for more, we need to ask for more out of our athletes based on the last game. We’re asking for more. But we’re asking in a manner of we need to do this together. That includes the coaching staff.

“I just want them to succeed, I want them to get back in a win column to make this interesting with two games left. I’m frustrated for them.”

While Tortorella continues to work at it alongside his staff and team, the Flyers believe his message is still resonating.

“It’s still getting through,” Sean Couturier said. “The key is just not quitting. We’re going through a tough time here, a tough stretch at a bad time of the season. But we’re still in it, you don’t know what can happen here especially the way our division has been going all year. There’s no quitting. Even last game, I don’t believe we quit. Yeah, we were maybe stupid at times and made some dumb decisions that cost us big time, but there’s no quitting. I think that’s the key point for us here.”

Tortorella said the Flyers had a really good meeting Thursday morning before their skate.

“His message is definitely getting through,” Garnet Hathaway said. “We’re playing for each other and we’re playing for our coaching staff. The more we go through, we have to continue to lean on that message and lean on each other. That’s something we’re working on and we’re trying to grow, too. You find out just how strong those bonds are when you go through adversity, that it works to pull you apart. Luckily we have the foundation here that we’ve worked on all season to build.”

The Flyers have the difficult challenge of trying to stabilize things on the road against a 110-point Rangers team that still needs to nail down first place. The Flyers want to rediscover their defensive principles and overall style of play.

“We’re a smart enough team,” Tortorella said. “That’s my job, is to try to calm this down here into structure with intensity.”

And try to leave New York with a better feeling.

“You’re going to see this team fight throughout the rest of the season,” Hathaway said. “We want this game more than any game all year. We need this game. So this is an opportunity for us to play our game, to show the belief in this group and to keep playing for each other.

“That’s what we’ve built on, that’s what this organization has brought in to create a culture that plays for each other, that builds that team camaraderie. It’s not over until it’s over and you’re going to see that fight in this team.”

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