Hello to the Old and the New


Tonight’s Flyers game introduced another new epoch that the front office had envisioned during the summer of change; first off, it showcased the ability that Jaromir Jagr has to put the puck in the net during games that actually matter. After seeing him score against us for so many years it was a nice change of pace. With two quick snapshot breakaway goals Jagr reaffirmed the notion that he should be feared by defenses around the league when given space, despite his grey hair and wrinkles. His shot, stick handling, and quick bursts of speed are still evident, and will continue to improve thanks to his incessant work ethic, study time, and fervor to be great (late night practices galore). It also re-introduced us to Scott Hartnell. (Yes, believe it or not he is still on the roster) He recently was fortunate enough to replace James Van Riemsdyk on the top scoring line, and partnering up with Giroux and Jagr seems to have reinvigorated his game, which had lost its way as of late.

The move paid off quickly, when Hartnell netted two goals in his second appearance on the line and looked more like a player worth a cap hit above four million dollars instead of the salary dump that many viewed him as early on in the season. (Remember the Nashville rumors?) Keeping Hartnell on the top line is a no brainer if he can keep up his hot streak, but even if his numbers start to dip he could still make his presence felt with his physical play and energy in the dirty areas. He added an element to the former Briere-Leino line that was invaluable to its success, and could prove to be the type of spark plug that boosts everyone on the Giroux line.

In this young season the Flyers have looked great, good, okay, downright horrible, pathetic, uninspired, and above average. No, not all at once, but the team must search for an identity that allows the young skaters to feel comfortable while also taking advantage of their strengths on a regular basis. Laviolette’s system takes time to be implemented and has proven to work in the past, but requires certain attributes and instinctive that may be foreign to rookies.

So what does this Flyers team need to make consistent play a habit? Stability within the roster, strong skating, and a commitment to back checking are always at the top of the list.

Matt Read and Brayden Schenn have both seemed to supplant themselves within the lineup for the foreseeable future, while Harry Zolniercyzk and Zac Rinaldo will likely make the trek from Glens Falls to Philadelphia and back on a regular basis, however one decision is still up in the air. With the time quickly approaching regarding what to do with Sean Couturier, the 18 year old 1st round draft pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft, there are a few possible directions the Flyers can still go with their roster.

There are parties on both sides of the line, whether to send Couturier back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) or keep him up in the NHL, but the one major sticking point is always going to be money. Couturier has a few things to work on, some are tangible like skating and strength, and some are intangible like maturity and patience, but he has proven himself to be worthy of the high draft pick and can certainly hack it in the big time.

However, by pushing him back to Juniors, where he has had back to back 96 point seasons, doing so in 68 games and 58 games respectively, the Flyers can push back his contract another year, making his NHL contract essentially void for this season, and giving another year to the back end, when he will undoubtedly have improved both the tangibles and intangibles in his game.

Overall he’s looked better than Brayden Schenn and certainly sports better stats, but centering a fourth line with Talbot and Shelley could make it harder for the youngster to make a dent during the season. Given the possibilities the Flyers have financially with Couturier in the future it is surprising to keep him up this year, however his impressive play and the recent moves to clear cap space and contract amounts to fit him into this years plans have made it clear that Couturier will be around past the tenth game.

With the season being so fresh, and the book on this Flyers make-up so thin there are few things to go on, but with some chemistry and dependability starting to show the Flyers could be pushing towards the type of year that Ed Snider had envisioned

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