The Flyers pre-season campaign had been hardly stellar up until last night. Plenty of penalties taken, losses, and overall stale play at times pointed to a rough start for our Flyers. However, after a glimmer of hope in a close overtime loss to Toronto on Saturday, the Flyers came back to the Wachovia Center to have their first home pre-season game against the Red Wings. Ray Emery was going to play the whole game, the defensive unit was pretty much our starting one, and most of our starting forwards were playing. How did it turn out? The Flyers routed the Red Wings 5-2 in a fast-paced matchup.
You’ve heard his name a billion times already, and this time is no different. James Van Riemsdyk recorded another two goals last night to bring his point total to a team-high 4 so far in pre-season action. One of those goals included him stationing his big body right in front of the net and slamming a puck home past Osgood. This kid obviously wants to play. He’s gained more muscle since being drafted, he’s worked on his game a lot more, and there was a sense in the air last night that wherever he was going, the puck was going to be there. Another hopeful to make the team is NHL newcomer Mike Pyorala who also scored last night when he was whacking away at a puck in front. He looked real good when teamed up with Van Riemsdyk, and hopefully they both can make the team.
Emery was solid in net, and Pronger looked great again, logging 20 minutes of ice time while Coburn and Timmonen took the brunt of the work at almost 25 minutes each. The pairings looked great. Syvret is definitely going to get at least one call-up this year. Besides the decent play of the defense, Danny Briere netted another goal and even Carcillo showed a nifty move on a great hustle play to get to the puck and beat Osgood with a backhander. Last night was arguably the most complete game the Flyers have played so far, and the team is finally starting to flesh out. Missing from the lineup last night was veteran try-out Blair Betts but he will be in the lineup tomorrow against the Devils most likely. I’m hoping he can lock a 4th line spot so he can win us some faceoffs and be a solid PKer because knowing us, we’ll need it. The game will broadcast on CSN tomorrow night for a 7 o’clock faceoff versus the Devils.
Van Riemsdyk and Pyorala are making their plea to Homer and Stevens that they want to be on the team. The question is, can we afford it and do we have enough room. Will they send JVR down to the Phantoms at first like they did to Giroux last year? Time will tell. We’ll have more about tomorrow night’s game after it’s over.