Two with Toronto
To continue with the preseason evaluations, I watched intently as the Flyers played a two night doubleheader with the Maple Leafs on Thursday and Friday. Because of the convoluted nature of the roster for the games coupled with ‘shaking the rust off’, it becomes extremely difficult to evaluate. Individual players are more the focus than the team as a whole. There is absolutely no way to judge a team with a handful of AHL players that will probably never touch Wells Fargo Center ice (still sounds weird).
I’ve attempted to take better notes on the whirling dervish preseason team than I did for the New Jersey game, so lets run down some of what jumped out at me:
JVR- He played on Thursday, and was absolutely everywhere again. I love the strength he shows on the boards, as well as his speed. He broke out for a chance and drew a penalty shot like he was shot out of a cannon. It’s getting easier to see why this kid was the second overall pick a few years back.
Carter- Any of you that follow me on twitter or that possess the ability to recognize sarcasm in a column know that I’m not Jeff’s biggest fan. That being said, I felt he’d be back in a big this way due to this being his contract year. In two games, he’s looked pretty fantastic. Although, athleticism and talent aren’t Jeff’s problem, that would be his ability to disappear in the blink of an eye. Therefore I'm refusing to blink until next summer.
Guerin- Netted a freaky goal Thursday, but nonetheless, looked pretty darn good. I’m starting to feel pretty sure that the ‘tryout’ he’s on is a mere formality until the team can figure out a roster move or a trade.
Meszaros- Once again awful in the defensive zone Thursday, but didn’t look quite as bad on Friday. Not sure what to make of him at this point. Hopefully I will be able to get a better look at him moving forward. Better as in him playing better and me forgetting how terrible he’s looked at times.
Goalies - Played decently well, nothing extraordinary but nothing terrible, wait! That’s the motto for Flyers goaltending! Bobrovsky continues to excite, it’s quite clear how impressive his athleticism and technique are. He still needs more time in the AHL to develop his game, however. Leighton apparently tweaked a muscle in his back on Friday, and Boucher relieved him for the shootout. I thought Leighton played okay, but his weakness last year was always his propensity to give up goals immediately after his first. Friday was no different. He played well, gave up a goal, and on what seemed like the next shot he gave up another. That’s just not going to cut it. I have no idea how long he will be out with his injury, but it should make for an interesting situation nonetheless for the Flyers.
Giroux/Zherdev- As soon as Zherdev was signed in the offseason, I spent most of my time daydreaming about the possibility of a line with him, Giroux and Ville Leino. Although Leino is still rehabbing from his offseason surgery, Giroux and Zherdev got their chance Friday. They did not disappoint. Zherdev netted two goals, the second being attributed to a blind sweep shot toward the net by Giroux. The talent in these two on the offensive side of the puck is scary for any team to face, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Laviolette keep them together after Friday night’s performance. Zherdev was not without fault however, as he had a complete loss of mind in the overtime period which led to a Phil Kessel goal that was waived off and not reviewed. His defensive breakdowns now and then will probably remain all season, but his offensive prowess may be enough for me to overlook them. Also, Giroux pulled a ‘Datsyuk’ in the shootout, if you haven’t seen it, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruO02Hbs69I
I could go on for days giving evaluations and report cards for the preseason games, but what fun would that be? These are just some basic observations that jumped out at me. The Flyers play Minnesota tonight, and hopefully I can bring you all some more observations.