"I'm the starter!" Not so fast, Boosh. (Courtesy: Townnews.com)

Second Goalie Controversy of the Preseason

Good news everyone, the Flyers are already in mid-season form.  Last year it took us a few months for goalies to start getting hurt.  We got it down to such an exact science, that we managed to do it twice in the playoffs, and we still almost won the Stanley Cup.  This brilliant maneuver confused opposing teams consistently. So now we know that Michael Leightonis out for a least a month with a bulging disc in his back. The question arises: Who will start in net for the Flyers now?

I’m sure most people assumed that Brian Boucher would automatically get the starting nod. I’m not so sure about that. Immediately after Leighton’s MRI results came back, proclaiming how long he’d be out, it was time for some healthy competition. The following game, Boucher was in net, and he played the entire contest. The next game (last night) was a showcase for budding Russian star Sergei Bobrovsky. Why is this so significant you ask? Because until these two games, Boucher had barely played in the preseason. Lavy had been giving Bobrovsky a ton of playing time, to see what he’s made of.

Turns out, the Flyers were VERY unfamiliar with him when they signed him. None of their scouts had seen him in person when they gave him a contract. They saw a highlight tape, read some stats, and listened to a recommendation. Let me repeat myself, “NONE OF THEIR SCOUTS HAD SEEN HIM IN PERSON WHEN THEY GAVE HIM A CONTRACT.” Here’s the story on Bobrovsky, and a recap of last nights game by Tim Panaccio.

It’s definitely not a given that Boucher automatically will hold the fort until Leighton comes back. Last night, the Flyers played a ridiculously weak Islanders team. In a scheduling quirk, the Isles trip to China was canceled, so they scheduled two games last night.  Most of their scrubs played us, while a few more regular players played in Calgary (they lost both games). So if the Flyers didn’t trample them, there would be some cause for concern. No worries though, the Flyers jumped out to an easy 3-0 lead in the first, then pretty much sat back the rest of the game. They definitely looked like the team that had played a few games, and the Isles looked like a team that was just starting out.

By the third period, most of the guys weren’t paying much attention anymore. It’s not the attitude we want, but hey, it’s preseason.  The good thing about this was that Bobrovsky finally faced a ton of chance.  And he looked damn good. He reacted quickly to deflections, stopped a breakaway, and didn’t give up any bad rebounds.  I know we’re not playing the best of the best, especially last night, but still: a slapper from the point through a screen is tough no matter who fires it. And Bobrovsky has stopped almost everything that’s come his way.  The lone goal he let in last night was a bit tough to save.  Our defense fell asleep, and allowed a pass from the point directly to the top of the crease. As the no name Islander got the puck, he moved across the crease, Timonen tried to poke check him and the puck went into the net.

Again, he was very strong. He’s quick. He’s always in position, seems like he’s in control of the game, in control of the crease. Never really having to do anything acrobatic because he’s always in the right spot. Because of that, he’s able to recover anything he needs to.

- Flyers coach, Peter Laviolette

That sounds like some high praise.  Now I haven’t seen Boucher this season at all, but we know what we get with him.  He’s pretty good, but just not good enough to be a full time starter.  Maybe they do stick with him, or maybe they give the new kid a shot.  I don’t know when Lavy will make the choice, but with the season opener a week away, we won’t have to wait very long.

Notes

  • Carter scored a pair of easy goals, and has played pretty well offensively.  I like the drive to the net that I’m seeing out of him this season.  It seems like he’s making more of an effort to get in better position to unleash his amazing wrist shot.
  • JVR is starting to stand out a bit more.  He’s winning puck battles in the corner, cycling the puck well, and is starting to make plays. The more I see, the more I like.
  • I mentioned 3 days ago that from reading stats, it seemed like Zherdev and Giroux may be developing some chemistry. Last night, at the start of the game, this is exactly what JJ and Jonesy highlighted and talked about.  Later in the game there was a sick passing play between the two guys that looked as if they’d been playing together for quite some time.
  • Betts and Leino made their first appearance on the ice.  Each filled their role pretty well.  Betts was noticeable on the penalty kill, specifically when he nicely broke up a cross-ice pass.  Leino had a few sequences where he held the puck and moved it around the offensive zone.  He probably won’t get a ton of ice time this season, but I think he’ll be pretty productive when he does get his chances.

Thanks for reading!

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Tags: Blair Betts Brian Boucher Broad Street Buzz Claude Giroux Jeff Carter JVR Michael Leighton New York Islanders Nikolai Zherdev Peter Lav Philadelphia Flyers Preseason Sergei Bobrovsky Starting Goalie Ville Leino

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