Better With Popcorn

Meszaros pulls it together against Leafs

Andrej Meszaros hasn’t had a consistent year.

In fact, there have been times were he has looked shaky at best.

However, in Thursday night’s 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Meszaros looked like the player Philadelphia fans were introduced to last year after he joined the team in an offseason trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Physical, fast and engaged, Meszaros put together what was arguably his best game of the season.

One of the most appealing components to his game last season was his strength when moving the puck in transition.

Where as Chris Pronger was able to spring forwards with a homerun outlet pass from the defensive zone, Meszaros was capable of jumping up on the rush to begin sustained zonetime.

In addition, he had the confidence to skate with the puck into the offensive zone.

Up to this point in the year, he hadn’t displayed that same confidence.

Whether it was a turnover, poor decision or a lack of vision, Meszaros has failed to be as effective on the rush.

That is until Thursday night.

“I thought he had a presence offensively,” Peter Laviolette said after the game. “He seemed to be up in the rush and trying to generate."

The standout moment came in the first period with the Flyers already up 1-0.

Meszaros entered the Toronto zone with the puck and wrapped around the net in an attempt to catch Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer off guard.

Although the shot failed to arrive at it’s intended destination, it was the beginning of an aggressive night for Meszaros.

He consistently entered the Toronto zone with a head full of steam, sought out opportunities and pressured his opponents by making smart plays.

Meszaros ultimately found quantitative success in the second period when he attempted a shot from the point that Max Talbot deflected to put the team up 2-1.

There have been some instances this season where his offense will come at the expense of his defense.

Again, that wasn’t the case on Thursday.

Meszaros threw the body consistently, took attackers out of plays and finished checks.

Not to mention that he clogged up passing lanes, made smart decisions on pinches and put himself in front of shots.

One of the most important defensive plays he made came five minutes into the third when he stepped up into the slot to block a one-timer off of a centering pass that ended up going into the stands.

Had he not blocked the shot, the Leafs would have had a high-quality chance on the Flyers goal at point-blank range.

With the team only up by one, it could have been a key moment in the game.

Meszaros finished the night with one point, three shots, four hits and three shots blocked.

It was evident that he made his presence known in all three zones and played a complete game.

While it may only be an isolated occurrence and really doesn’t speak to any thing other than a solid night, his performance against the Maple Leafs was an example of the kind of player he can be.

It certainly wouldn’t hurt the Flyers if that player decided to show up more often.

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