• June 22, 2024

Zherdev Finds New Friends as Flyers Topple Canadiens 5-3

It wasn’t long ago that I tried to weigh the pros and cons of trading Nikolay Zherdev. Even though he hadn’t appeared to find a comfortable place with the team, it just made more sense to keep him from a depth perspective than to release him for cap relief and whatever the market offered in return.

It’s amazing what two days on a proper scoring line can prove.

Skating with Jeff Carter and James Van Riemsdyk, Zherdev scored his second goal in two nights against the Montreal Canadiens, as the Flyers pulled out a tough 5-3 win against a hungry Canadiens club. Zherdev’s line was responsible for four of the five Flyers goals, with the first goal of the game coming from Jeff Carter on a nice forehand to backhand shot and the game-winning goal on a powerplay from JVR.

The powerplay had once again been abominable during the game, as the Flyers went 0 for 2 on the night. On the second attempt, the Flyers deflected a pass into the zone off a skate and out, lost the puck to a Canadien after a weak drop pass from Ville Leino, and then were caught offsides as Danny Briere took the puck across the blue-line and then immediately back out.

At the 13:31 mark of the third period, Zherdev and JVR had developed a nice opportunity to score, but JVR’s stick was slashed by Canadien Tomas Plekanec and subsequently broke. With a final powerplay opportunity and the game tied 3-3, coach Peter Laviolette opted to keep a line that was working well on the ice rather than turn to his pre-established powerplay units.

Zherdev skated up the right wall with the puck and passed it to Carter. Carter took a shot on goal that Canadien goaltender Carey Price stopped, but JVR swooped in and batted the puck in for his second goal of the night and his seventh of the season. Claude Giroux sealed the deal with another flashy move that Price couldn’t predict.

As much of a fan as I am of Darroll Powe, Zherdev has the talent to be successful on the top lines and the last two games should serve as a reminder to Laviolette of his abilities. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have defensive liabilities or that the coach shouldn’t be able to sit him when he isn’t happy with his play. Still, if you want to win a Stanley Cup, you need consistent goal scorers and Powe just isn’t it on a regular basis.

Enforcer Jody Shelley will be available again on Saturday for the matinee game against the New York Rangers after sitting out for a two-game suspension. While I would prefer that he sits again, I wouldn’t be surprised if Laviolette sat Dan Carcillo in lieu of Shelley. Carcillo didn’t contribute that much in his two games back from an MCL strain, but he wasn’t the negative liability that he sometimes gets painted as. If anything, he is a more competent fourth liner than Shelley.

CSNPhilly is reporting that defenseman Chris Pronger may have sustained a “lower body injury” during the second period, although I didn’t even notice he left at all. I don’t know if that says anything about my attention to detail or just how good this defense is (although they did cough up two goals in the third period). Should Pronger sit for Saturday’s game, defenseman Oskars Bartulis will likely pair with Sean O’Donnell while Andrej Meszaros moves up to the second unit with Matt Carle.

Josh Janet

Josh Janet was raised in Northern New Jersey, but by an odd set of circumstances, is a Philadelphia sports fan. While recently converted to the Phillies, Josh is a diehard Flyers fan and can be expected to stay on top of the latest NHL news.

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December 16, 2010 6:45 am

yeah Josh, i was surprised by how much fun he looked like he was having tonight. Keep this line. With the way Richie and Giroux play together on special teams, its nice to see them together. I think we’ve finally found our set line combos.

December 16, 2010 6:47 am

… oh, and JVR and Carter’s two-way play were outstanding. It really makes this line a complete package.

December 16, 2010 7:37 am

It would be pretty sweet if a good line suddenly gelled out of these guys the way Briere, Hartnell & Leino did last year.

December 16, 2010 11:09 am

I think Zherdev’s a Spy for the Russian Government and should be deported back to Russia asap…

December 16, 2010 11:29 am

It’s clear what’s happening. After my public defense of Zherdev, he has renewed confidence.

As far as Shelly/Carcillo. I don’t like either, as long as they’re BOTH not out there, I’m happy. I guess Carcillo offers a bit more ‘ability’ than Shelly.

December 16, 2010 11:57 am

Is it me or is it kind of exciting that they are still trying to find consistent lines and they are leading the league in points? Three consistent and dangerous scoring lines.