*** First of all let’s take a look at Nik Zherdev. He is exactly what he was signed to be. Here are the stats to back up my assertion from Philly.com:
• Zherdev is averaging 12 minutes, 11 seconds of ice time per game. That put him 554th in the league.
• Yet, he was tied for 20th in the NHL in goals heading into Saturday night's games.
• He was scoring at a higher rate than most NHL players, including a guy named Alex Ovechkin.
• Entering Saturday, Ovechkin had 12 goals in 709 minutes, an average of a goal every 59.1 minutes.
• Zherdev has 13 goals in 378 minutes, an average of one goal every 29 minutes.
The press doesn’t like him because he doesn’t do interviews, so they write bad articles about him. Come on guys, there are plenty of guys on the Flyers to give you quotes on a daily basis. He has also done most of his damage with the less talented forward on the Flyers. Lately he is playing wing next to Carter and opposite JVR. He has also scored on the only shootout attempt he has been given this year. Laviolette should run him out there as the first shooter in a shootout game after game and follow him with Giroux and Briere.
*** Now I really like the line combinations recently of Nodl, Richards, and Giroux followed by Hartnell, Briere, and Leino, the third group of JVR, Carter and Zherdev, and the fourth line of Carcillo, Betts, and Powe. This spreads the offense fairly equally over 3 lines and actually creates a 4th line that can play hockey. I am begging the Flyers to waive Jody Shelley as he cannot play the game and he took a major cheap shot a few games back which put the Flyers on a 5 minute penalty kill.
*** Next let’s look at the Flyers defense. Too many people complained in July about the additions on the Flyers blue line. The 2 newcomers are only leading the NHL in plus/minus before the Pronger injury. The depth that Holmgren has amassed will now be on display as Meszaros will simply move up from the 3rd pair and play in the first pair. This guy is a true warrior that loves to hit and can really shoot the puck pretty well also. Kimmo and Coburn are playing at a very high level and Matt Carle seems to be getting better every game.
*** Laviolette should take care of Holmgren a nice Christmas present for making the coaching job for him much easier. Holmgren has given Laviolette a huge array of offensive weapons, a defense so deep that you don’t have to match up, and a trio of goalies that are all playing at very similar levels. With this team as deep as they are, it really does not matter who in the crease. Bob has been very good as a rookie. He seems totally oblivious to the situation and just plays the puck. Boosh has been fantastic also. Leighton will be back sometime this week and I do not expect any drop-off in the crease no matter who is in there.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! Good Night and Good Hockey!
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