JVR, Betts, Pronger impress as Flyers fall in preseason opener


The Flyers dropped their preseason opener last night, 3-1, against the Detroit Red Wings. James van Riemsdyk scored for the Flyers early in the second period, but three unanswered goals by the Wings would be too much for the orange and black to handle.

Goaltender Ray Emery played the first two periods and he didn't look like a goaltender that hasn't played NHL hockey in two years. If there is any gripe with his play last night, he could have corralled his rebounds a little better, but otherwise it was an excellent two periods of hockey for Razor. It's tough to complain with 23 saves on 25 shots.

James van Riemsdyk continues to up his game. We mentioned before the challenges he's faced thus far in training camp, and he's continuing to up the ante. He scored the lone Flyer goal last night, an unassisted shot from the wing that snuck by Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard. Considering that Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell, Johan Franzen, Pavel Datsyuk, and Tomas Holmstrom were all on the ice for his tally, it's an impressive feat.

As for the biggest acquisition of the summer, Chris Pronger was nothing but spectacular last night in his Flyers debut. He blocked six shots and played 26 minutes, mostly due to an unbalanced amount of time on the penalty kill. He was everything as expected, and the Detroit fans (the Joe was half full, by the way) let him know every time he touched the puck with a chorus of boos.

Pronger wore an A on his sleeve and following the game in his post-game news conference, he seemed to take on a bit of a leadership role with his comments. He praised Emery's performance while also calling out the penalty takers, saying that it's too taxing to be taking so many penalties and that it has to stop in the future.

Pronger didn't name names, but if you had to guess one player who took a stupid penalty last night, who would it be? That''s right, our old friend Scott Hartnell might not have learned anything in the offseason, as he took a double minor for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct in the first period. Coach John Stevens talked to him about it after the game, and he stressed that Hartnell has to reign in his emotion at times.

Blair Betts, a guy the Flyers could use on the penalty kill, played a fantastic game, and his coach was all praise about his performance.

"[Betts wears] his heart on his sleeve," Stevens said postgame. "He's laying down in front of pucks, putting in extra effort all over the ice. He takes the role very seriously."

He did what he had to do to get noticed, and that's what's important when you're in camp on a try out basis. You need to give it your all and Blair Betts is showing that he wants a spot on this roster. Mark Bell, also in camp on a pro try out basis, played 10 minutes and, as Chris Therien put it on radio, "he seems to be just going through the motions." That's not how you win a roster spot on an NHL team, or even an AHL team for that matter.

Brian Boucher played the third period in net and allowed one goal on 10 shots.

The team is in London, Ontario today to take on the Maple Leafs in what could be a very physical matchup. The puck drops at 7 PM and it's on NHL Network in the US.

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