Last night Brayden Schenn put himself in perfect position to slam home a Danny Briere rebound past James Reimer to give the Flyers a 4-2 lead. Immediately after the goal was scored Schenn jumped into the arms of Briere to celebrate his fourth goal in the last seven games, or was Briere celebrating the notion that the third member of the super rookie trio is about ready to finally take flight?
It appears that the key trade piece in the Mike Richards deal is gaining the confidence that Matt Read and Sean Couturier already appear to have and it couldn’t come at a better time. With the top line starting to tail off a bit in scoring due to the increased defensive pressure, the rest of the team is going to have to hit the score sheet. So far this season, besides Wayne Simmonds, it has been the rookies that have made the Flyers one of the deepest teams in the league.
Matt Read has been the most impressive of the three rookies, he is currently 1st in rookie goals with 16 and third in rookie points at 32. Peter Laviolette has an enormous amount of confidence in Read, so much so that he has him manning the point on the second power play line. There have been numerous times this season when Read will make a play that rookies probably shouldn’t make (strip leading to a breakaway goal against Nashville, the shot from a ridiculous angle to be Alex Auld). To boot he made it to the finals of the precision shot in the skills competition of all star weekend with the second fastest time of the night.
His partner in crime for much of the season has been Sean Couturier. The two are frequently seen during most of the penalty kills. The exceptional defensive skills from Couturier are a big reason why he is out there, but the combine him with Read and you have a dangerous combination for shorthanded chances.
Couturier is currently ninth in rookie scoring, with 20 points (10 g, 10 a). He has done much of his damage manning the fourth line which is supposed to just be the high energy line combination of Harry Z, Rinaldo, Sestito, or Shelley depending on who dresses that night. Just imagine what his numbers could be if he centered a line with offensive weapons around him.
The key to the super rookies taking off into another stratosphere is Schenn. While Read boasts the abilities of a fast skater with a nasty shot, and Couturier has the size to win most battles in front of the net combined with an unusual passing ability for someone that big, Schenn is a combination of both plus he isn’t afraid to lay the big hit when he has to.
The comparisons to Mike Richards will come along down the road but right now Schenn just needs to keep the confidence level up. At MSG last Saturday Schenn beat Henrik Lunqvist on a breakaway that I really believe gave Schenn an abundance of confidence heading forward. Just look at the little shoulder dip that freezes Lunqvist, who is one of the best goaltenders in the game.
It is kind of unthinkable that a trio of rookies could feed a city a championship they have been starving for since the 70s, but that is exactly what is unfolding in front of our eyes. Perhaps what is even more amazing than that is that these three have made trading James van Reimsdyk a feasible option. Not even the mastermind Paul Holmgren could have imagined that those trades back in June would have panned out this well, this soon.
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