October 6, 2011 Leave a comment
With the season opener in the books and the Flyers getting (very slight) revenge on the Boston Bruins by defeating them 2-1, the overall first impression is that the team is good. Very good. Here are some impressions from the Flyers’ opening game of the 2011-12 NHL season:
- Unfortunately for the Flyers, rookie Sean Couturier may not be here for more than eight games. If the team decides to return him to his junior team, which they very well may to protect his contract, they will be missing out on a potentially great piece of this year’s roster. With Over four-and-a-half minutes of shorthanded time on ice and 14 minutes total, Couturier showed that although he might be a bit small, he still has the talent to play in this league. He was defensively sound, showed great hockey sense, and an ability to get to the net.
- JVR-Giroux-Jagr just might be the best line in the NHL this season. True, Claude Giroux’s first period goal was solely a result of him dipsy-doodling around the Boston defense. But JVR looked like he was picking up where he left off in last year’s postseason, and Jaromir Jagr looked like he hasn’t missed a beat. He was just as fast, powerful, and talented as he was when he bolted the New York Rangers for the Kontinental League. And don’t forget, with that one assist tonight, he now has 1,600 for his career. Impressive, to say the least.
- It is still early, but Max Talbot could be the dark horse pickup of the summer. A fourth-liner on the Penguins (and Game 7 Stanley Cup hero, many forget), Talbot’s place is on the defensive side of the puck. He’ll be lucky to score 10 goals this season. But if he plays the way he did tonight, he will have a positive plus/minus rating and a hell of a lot more games with 16-plus minutes of ice time by the end of the season.
- Ilya Bryzgalov looked as good as Flyers fans expected him to look, but also remember how much help he had from his teammates. The offense was good, but the defense was incredible. Forwards were Backchecking, there were very few odd-man rushes, and numerous defensemen helped prevent goals (including Timonen’s personal save of the game). But, of course, Bryzgalov still managed some impressive saves that reminded GM Paul Holmgren why he pays the ridiculous Russian the big bucks.
- Not to go too much onto the other side of the ice, but Bruins forward Brad Marchand looked like the best Bruins player. In addition to Boston’s lone goal, the first for this NHL season, he was all over the ice, just as he was in the Stanley Cup final last year. He may not put pucks in the net all the time, but he is going to have a huge influence on the ice for the Bruins, who may very well find themselves back in the playoffs in late May.
Game one is in the books – the Flyers are 1-0, Jagr and Giroux showed great chemistry, the defense looks great, and the goaltending fire looks momentarily extinguished. Next up: a trip to Newark to face the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.
Alan Bass, a former writer for The Hockey News and THN.com, is the author of The Great Expansion: The Ultimate Risk That Changed The NHL Forever. He has worked for the Philadelphia Flyers’ Fan Development department, going to schools throughout the tri-state area to teach about fitness and the importance of teamwork. He is the General Manager of the Muhlenberg College Division II hockey team as well. You can contact him atAlanbasswriting@aol.com.mailto:BergHockey24@gmail.com