Better With Popcorn

Lauridsen Standing Tall Among Young Flyers Defensemen

PHILADELPHIA -- There are a handful of Flyers rookies who are looking to stand-out for Peter Laviolette as he starts to think about his blue line for next season.

For one, that may not necessarily be a difficult task.

Oliver Lauridsen is lucky he's a 6'6" mammoth of a man. Calling himself the "Great Dane" on Twitter, Lauridsen has been impressive for the Flyers in the 14 games he's played for Philadelphia so far.

Last night was just another example of what he brings to the table and it's certainly helping his cause.

With 6:31 left in the game, Lauridsen's screamer of a slap shot beat the Islanders' Kevin Poulin to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead and eventual victory. It was the second straight game in which Lauridsen scored a goal, both being credited as game-winners.

Lauridsen's objective when he was first called up was to just leave his mark and keep it simple. Combining physical play and a simplified defensive game, Lauridsen has been a very solid defenseman for the Flyers with them suffering all the injuries they have to their blue line.

"That has been the goal the entire time," Lauridsen said after the game. "Obviously, I know there have been a lot of guys down with injuries this year. I got my shot here in the last 10 games. I have just been trying to make a mark for myself and hopefully I put myself in a good position for when camp starts next year."

Lauridsen's game last night was easily the best of his young NHL career. He logged over 20 minutes of ice time for the first time in his career, dished out four hits, blocked four shots, scored and put three shots on goal to finish with a plus-1 rating.

When asked if Lauridsen's grit is something head coach Peter Laviolette would like to have on his blue line next year, he made it clear that it's something he would want.

"Certainly it’s not something we’re looking to avoid," Laviolette said, finding a nice way to say he loves the fact Lauridsen plays angry at the world out there sometimes.

"When someone can bring his size and presence to the ice I think it’s a positive. He’s a towering man, he plays with a physical edge, he’s kept the game simple up here and he seems like he got every pound of his body into that shot tonight. I was happy for him."

Lauridsen isn't the only one keeping things simple. Brandon Manning, Erik Gustafsson, and now Matt Konan have been getting chances to prove themselves with the opportunities given to them thanks to injuries.

"They got an opportunity. Not every day do you have the opportunity to play in the NHL," said goaltender Ilya Brygalov, who stopped 21 shots last night. "If they play hard and play well, lots of teams, and our management are watching. This is just a chance; maybe it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity."

The best way to have a good impression out there is to just keep things simple and not try to do too much. It's what Lauridsen has been doing and it's what the other young guys, especially Manning the last three games, have been doing.

"We have kept it very simple and I think that is a great asset to have, as a D-core, no matter who is out there," Lauridsen said. "With regards to the guys we have out there, I am actually pretty proud of what that D-core has done. We have had so many guys in and out.

"We haven’t given up that many goals. We have gotten some great support from out goaltenders. We kept it real simple and kept a minimal defensive zone time. It is paying off and we succeeded winning games too."

With one game left, all Lauridsen, Manning and company can do is to keep it simple. But it's safe to say, Lauridsen is a head and shoulders (pun definitely intended) ahead of his competition for next season.

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Follow John Russo (@Roose_TCL) and the site (@TCLFlyers) on Twitter.

Photo credit to John Russo.

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