The Flyers continued the preseason with their fourth game in four nights and second against the Detroit Red Wings. After falling early to a goal by Red Wing Fabian Brunnstrom, the Flyers rallied back to eventually win 3-1. With four more games remaining before the start of the regular season, the roster continues to take shape.
- Jaromir Jagr, in his first full game as a Philadelphia Flyer, teamed with linemate James Van Riemsdyk for one goal apiece, scored 52 seconds apart, late in the first period. If Claude Giroux centers the two, this will be a very balanced top line with some defensive reliability.
- Matt Read scored the third goal against the Red Wings, going top shelf on goaltender Jimmy Howard. At this point, Read is a lock to make the 2011-12 Flyers. He is too versatile of a player to be sent down to the Phantoms.
- Mike Testwuide was ejected from the game after laying a Red Wing player heavily into the boards. The feed from the Flyers’ web site (the only way to catch the game if you didn’t have a seat in Joe Louis Arena) did not show replays, so it was difficult to tell how brutal the hit actually was, but there’s a chance Brendan Shanahan will once again lay judgment to a Flyer. Even if there is no subsequent punishment, it is unlikely he will be able to competitively fight for a roster spot this season.
- Tom Sestito could not stay out of the sin bin either. For all who believe he will be a better replacement for Jody Shelley, I am inclined to disagree. He has better puck handling skills than Shelley but is just as much of a liability on the ice.
- The first half of the game was essentially a Red Wings power play, but the Flyers were able to keep Detroit off the board. Brayden Schenn, Read, Andreas Lilja and Eric Wellwood played phenomenally on the penalty kill.
- Four games into the preseason, Wellwood and Ben Holmstrom have emerged as the top candidates for the thirteenth forward position. Both are very defensively responsible, an intangible that is vital for a rookie who may be coming into a game cold after sitting on the bench for awhile. Holmstrom has displayed better goal-scoring abilities at the AHL level than Wellwood, but Wellwood’s contract is cheap enough that it won’t hinder the Flyers’ ability to recall other Phantoms in the event of inuries as the season progresses.
- Sean Couturier is so close to making this team, it’s palpable. I think the need for him to grow into his body as well as his salary cap hit will factor into his being sent back down to Juniors. I would comfortably pencil him into the 2012-13 line-up, though.
- Defenseman Oskars Bartulis was second to Andrej Meszaros in ice time, but he hasn’t been sharp enough this preseason to warrant the leeway that coach Peter Laviolette has extended him. It’s a toss-up between Bartulis and Erik Gustafsson for the seventh defenseman position as the preseason moves on.
- Sergei Bobrovsky, recalling former goaltender Ron Hextall, took a shot at the empty net with 30 seconds left in the game. It is going to be very exciting this season to watch Bob battle Ilya Bryzgalov for the starting position.
The next preseason game is Monday night against the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center. The NHL will finally “announce” the 2012 Winter Classic before the game. While most fans will not care about the formal nature of the announcement, ticket information will finally become available to the general public.
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