Better With Popcorn

Grossman doesn't turn heads but plays well in debut

He was brought here to play well in the defensive zone.

With one game in the book, the one minor victory the Flyers can take away from Saturday’s disgusting 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, is that newly acquired defensive defenseman, Nicklas Grossman lived up to his reputation.

Well, for one game at least.

Grossman was not brought to Philadelphia to solidify the d-corps and be a difference maker. He is merely a depth player who is going to help eat minutes.

This was on display on Saturday.

Physical from opening puck drop, the 27-year old defender made his presence known early as he drove Pittsburgh’s leading scorer, Evgeni Malkin into the boards.

Playing the majority of his minutes with Andrej Meszaros, he made a good first impression in his debut.

“Grossman, I thought he played a strong game,” Peter Laviolette said of his new player. “He’s a big guy with a heavy stick, he’s physical, he gets his body in the way. I thought he played a lot of the rushes and the d-zone coverage, he did a good job. He’s a big man.”

Grossman finished the game with eight hits and three blocked shots in 18:26 on the ice. His eight hits ultimately turned out to be the most of any other player on either team.

However, his physical play wasn’t limited to the hitting game.

The aggressive defender battled in his own zone and was a solid presence in front of both of Philadelphia’s struggling goaltenders. The high point of which came late in the game when he knocked over Jordan Staal when he was jockeying for position in front of the Flyers goal.

Considering how porous the coverage in front of the Flyers goal has been at times, it’s hard to remember the last time a Philadelphia player successfully took an attacker out of the play like that.

Of course, that’s not to say he didn’t have a few minor bumps in the road.

Pittsburgh’s first goal was largely the result of miscommunication between Grossman and Meszaros. Even with the error, Grossman still managed to get back to try and stop the rush.

In addition, he was called for a holding penalty when battling with Malkin in the second period.

Obviously, the team lost the game as well.

“It’s never fun with a loss," he said of his first game in orange and black.

However, in a general sense, it was a good first game for the newest Flyer.

It’s important that fans realize that he wasn’t going to come into Philadelphia and start turning heads. He isn’t the kind of player that is going to change the outcome of the game just by being on the ice.

It cannot be stressed enough that he was brought onto the team with the idea of adding depth to a depleted blue line.

Realistically, if you’re noticing Grossman, then he’s probably not doing his job.

With that being said, he did look good and if he continues to play like he did on Saturday then he will continue to be a useful addition to the team.


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