Preseason Opener Tonight!

The result means nothing, the lineups will feature tons of unknown prospects, but finally: HOCKEY IS BACK! What better way to start things off than to host the New Jersey Devils?

Per league rules, we’ll have at least 8 veterans playing tonight. I know Leighton will start in goal and Bobrovsky will relieve him at some point. As for the rest of the guys, I expect to see a bunch of guys battling to earn some jobs.  I would imagine that we’ll see JVR, Guerin, Shelley, and a few defensemen. This isn’t like a football preseason, with vanilla offense and some horrible play.  I expect to see guys playing Lavy’s system, skating hard, throwing their weight around, and just doing whatever they can to prove themselves.

And even if this games means absolutely nothing, I’d still like to see a win tonight.  Last season we just stomped all over the Devils, losing to them once during the regular season, and also crushing them 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs. I hate, hate, HATE the Devils more than any other franchise.  Any win against them is a great win in my eyes. Especially if Brodeur is in net.

But back to what’s really important.  Laviolette likes preseason games because it’s the best way for him to evaluate players.  Here’s what I’ll be looking for:

  • Tempo: will the game look fast or bogged down? The faster the pace, the better. Lavypreaches a high energy system, with good skating and hard forechecking.  If the games just seems slow, then the guys aren’t doing it right.
  • Zone breakout: How quickly are the Flyers getting out of their own zone? 1-2 passes and I want them headed the other way. Don’t give the opposition time to get back on defense.  I want to see the puck moved quickly, and I want to see some odd-man rushes.
  • Cover up for the goalie: This early on, I expect some bad rebounds left out front. The defense needs to not allow second chances, and preferably will turn rebounds into rushes the other way.
  • A fight: why not see some bare-knuckle brawling?
  • Playmaking: We have a few guys that can dish the puck, but there’s always room for more.  I want to see someone that has soft hands and can play the set-up role on our team.  We don’t have a sniper that can just create his own shot and score almost at will, so we need to use a little teamwork to keep the offense going.  Is there anyone that can step up and do that?

I’ll try to catch most of the game, and we’ll see what kind of things we need to work on.

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Tags: Bill Guerin Jody Shelley JVR Michael Leighton New Jersey Devils Philadelphia Flyers Preseason Sergei Bobrovsky

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