Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros was eliminated from Olympic competition yesterday due to the Czech Republic’s victory over his Slovakian squad. Meszaros skated most of the tournament on the Slovakian 2nd defense pairing with Ivan Baranka. In the final game, Baranka did not play while Meszaros skated with Martin Marincin. Throughout the tournament Meszaros averaged 18:53 of ice time. However, he skated over 20 minutes in the final three games. Meszaros had no points, five shots, and took three minor penalties. So, we must ask the question:
Did Meszaros’ Sochi experience help or hurt the Philadelphia Flyers for the stretch run?
The answer is not all that easy. I am inclined to say yes, but an argument could be made that it was not an altogether positive experience. I will write thoughts for both sides and let you decide.
Why will his Sochi experience hurt Andrej Meszaros? Because Meszaros’ play has always been linked to his confidence. No matter how people try to spin it, the fact is that his team lost all four of its Olympic games. They were outscored by a combined total of 16-5. Yes, Meszaros was not directly at fault for the goals against, but how can a defenseman be confident after allowing an average of four goals per game? Unfortunately, Meszaros’ confidence has been on a roller coaster ride this season. He has been put in and out of the line-up very frequently. Therefore, the fact that his team took four straight losses is only going to eat away at his already fragile confidence.
Why will his Sochi experience help Andrej Meszaros (and the Philadelphia Flyers)? Because apart from his team’s struggles, Meszaros played pretty well. Mez will never be a superstar. He had the luxury in this tournament of playing behind Zdeno Chara and being shielded from the toughest situations. Like Streit, Meszaros played relatively big minutes on the big ice. He will come back in better shape and will be ready to push himself to new levels. When looking back on Meszaros’ tournament, it is hard not to focus on the game saving shot block against Alex Ovechkin or the fact that he was not on the ice for ANY of the United States’ seven goals against in the first game.
Where will Meszaros’ confidence be? That is the ultimate question when it comes to the Slovakian defenseman. When he is confident, he is a solid player. If he can come back to Philadelphia with confidence, that will help the Flyers in more ways that one. They can always use a solid two-way defenseman with great offensive instincts. On the other hand, with the trade deadline coming up and Meszaros on an expiring contract, a resurgent Mez could fetch an average return (as opposed to no return earlier in the season) or be part of a substantial package to obtain that coveted #1 defenseman. No matter how you slice it, a confident Meszaros would go a long way for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Will he be confident when he returns? I would love to hear what you think. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section or via twitter.