It’s a new season for the Flyers, so naturally that means there is an interesting mix of new and familiar faces throughout the lineup looking to make an impact and land a spot on the team. The new guys are out to show the coaches what they can do. The old guys are out to show the coaches they’re still capable. And the young guys are out to show the coaches what they can do if given the opportunity. So how have they fared so far?
With the absence of Claude Giroux from the lineup, the presence of Vinny Lecavalier is even more noticeable. The silky smooth center has slotted into the top six perfectly, and when #28 returns the Flyers will be rolling out a dynamic duo down the middle that is capable of doing serious damage on the scoreboard. Vinny has looked dangerous in preseason action thus far, scoring the other night versus Washington and making his presence felt versus the Rangers. He was on pace for 65 points last year; if he can keep producing at a similar rate, it could be the best 1-2 punch they have had down the middle in years.
Further complicating things for the opposition is another year of seasoning under the belt of Sean Couturier. The young forward could be the ‘x-factor’ of the group, and seems to be rising to the occasion in preseason thus far. If he can continue to win draws and go to the net, he gives the team lethal depth down the middle. He was 8/11 on faceoffs last night against the Rangers while also scoring a goal. You can bet Peter Laviolette would love to see more of that.
Another good sign for the Flyers group of forwards is the renewed play of Max Talbot. Coming off a broken leg, Talbot has looked downright spunky this preseason, moving his feet very well while contributing in multiple facets of the game. He potted a goal last night versus the Rangers and should pick up where he left off as the team’s ace on the penalty kill. The team will need guys like Max to have a strong start while Giroux eases his way back into game shape, particularly in the area of special teams.
One thing I hope we don’t see too much more of is the presence of young Sam Morin in the lineup. By this, I mean he needs to be returned to juniors at some point before the regular season gets underway.
He has shown great ability in his first professional training camp, but it is obvious he isn’t there yet. Even though he recently signed his entry-level contract, there is no reason to waste a year of his rookie contract to see him sit on the bench for 50 minutes a night while the vets in front of him wear down compensating for his inability to contribute. They already have nine defensemen under contract for next season, and that doesn’t include Hal Gill – who has apparently impressed the coaches somehow. Sending Morin back to juniors benefits both the player and the team in this situation.
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