Well it’s been a long summer. Actually it’s been 95 days since Zdeno Chara lifted the Cup over his head. It’s also been the worst summer in hockey history as the hockey world was plagued by death. This season will be a season for mourning of Derrick Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak and all those on the Russian Lokomotiv team. It hasn’t been easy to digest.
With that being said, it’s time to put the other foot forward and realize that it’s that time of year. The air is cooler, the sun is setting sooner, and before long the leaves will be changing color. Yes my friends, its hockey season. Several, if not every NHL team has done some major changes. LA Kings has acquired Mike Richards, Columbus acquired Jeff Carter, Buffalo acquired Ville Leino, Toronto picked up Tim Connolly, Florida received Brian Campbell via trade, Brad Richards signed a mega deal with the Rangers and yes the Flyers have made several major changes to their franchise.
I took to the rink on Sunday for day 2 of Flyers Training Camp. I took several videos of drills which you can find here:
For a lot of people who are so unsure of where the orange and black are headed this year, I was impressed with what I saw.
Wayne Simmonds has a lot of potential. He’s been a league grinder with some scoring ability. He reminds me of Scottie Upshall who in Nashville played more of a power forward role with physical play but he transitioned into a scorer when he went to Phoenix. Simmonds has that ability now and has a chance to make a name for him. He has tremendous speed and size and with his skill set and the Flyers need for more scoring depth, he has a shot and the potential to be a consistent 20 goal scorer. He deflected a pass in for a goal in the Flyers first preseason game. Perhaps he can replace the absence of Mike Knuble’s position in front of the net, which has been missed since his departure.
Sean Couturier, the Flyers 1st round pick (8th overall) look good in camp. He needs to bulk up a little but, he has the right skill set for the NHL. I asked Riley Cote, Assistant Coach of the Phantoms of what he thinks of the Flyers’ draft pick and he said; “He has looked great in camp so far, including the first preseason game. He is solid on both sides of the puck and he will only get stronger. I do love how rounded he is for a guy you had 90 something pts in 50 games or so last year, he really take pride defensively.”
The Front Office apparently agrees with Cote as they signed him to an entry level contract. Now he has 10 days to show the Flyers if he is truly ready for the big club. He’s already dominated juniors, so I believe he’s ready. Because of his age he is ineligible to play in the AHL.
Scott Hartnell seems to have worked on something this off -season and no it’s not his skating. Well he seems to have gained some speed he still has a difficult time staying on his feet. However, I’ve noticed he’s worked on his wrist shot. Several times during drills Hartnell has fired the puck right over the gloves of Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky. I’m not sure if the coaches have told him to work on this in hope to replace the missing wrist shot of Carter or if this is just Scottie’s idea. I’m certain though, “Birddog” will be given a different role this season since his office in front of the net hasn’t worked as the Flyers have hoped. I believe this job will now belong to Simmonds. Hartnell has benefitted with Briere by playing to the side of the net and moving his feet, rather than planting himself in front of the net minder. This is something to look at over the preseason.
Bryzgalov I’m sure was looking for a better debut than the one he had on Wednesday Night against the Leafs. All three goals that went by him were stick side. I also believe he’s a little more comfortable because it’s obvious that he’s going to be the starter however, he needs to not have that mentality. Coach Laviolette will not hesitate to go with the hot goaltender in the regular season. Even though I’m playing devil’s advocate, this is just a preseason game and shouldn’t be taken the wrong way. I’m more interested to see Bryzgalov play a regular season game, when it counts.
After watching camp and the first two preseason games, the veterans seemed to be more eager to for the regular season to start. The rookies are playing harder, but that’s because they’re trying to get a job in the NHL. The Flyers will make their annual trip to London Ontario on Wednesday to face the Red Wings and then off to the Motor City, Friday for a rematch. The Flyers will have the weekend to analyze their team and make some necessary changes.
Jody Shelley could be facing suspension for his boarding hit on Darryl Boyce. There are two types of Flyers fans, those who love Shelley and those who don’t. While Shelley isn’t afraid to drop the gloves with anyone in order to stand up for his team mates and wear his heart on his sleeve what is he contributing to the Flyers? He had only 4 pts last season, and doesn’t really bring much to the table. He’s been known to take bad penalties and has been suspended in the past for hits from behind. And his contract isn’t Flyer Friendly considering they have younger and faster players who are looking to fulfill Shelley’s role. With the addition of Simmonds and Talbot who are physical is Shelley’s spot safe?
My list of Rookies to watch closely:
Since Hockey is back in full force, expect a blog a couple times a week with Flyers coverage as well as NHL Coverage. NHL Trivia will return at the start of the regular season.
Training Camp clips: