SHUTOUT SHUTOUT OH MY GOD SHUTOUT.
Alright, now that that's out of the way: The Philadelphia Flyers kicked off the 2011 preseason on Tuesday night with a 4-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Zac Rinaldo opened the scoring, followed by goals from Wayne Simmonds, Mike Testwuide and Sean Couturier. Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves in the shutout effort.
That's the bare bones stuff, but it's preseason. Who really cares about the final score? It's all about evaluating where these guys are on an individual level right now, so let's crack open the bullet points and get right into it.
Sergei Bobrovsky looked absolutely fantastic tonight. Honestly, it looked as though he never stopped playing hockey this summer and that he's just been plugging away since May. Literally zero rust. He looked sharp, made a ton of huge saves and seemed much more composed in the crease than he did a year ago.
Bob seemed worlds better at the one glaring weakness he had a year ago. He wasn't flying all over the crease, over-compensating and lacking the the composure department. If that continues.... well, I don't know what to think if that continues, because we have a different goalie locked up for nine years. One game, let's keep telling ourselves that.
Zac Rinaldo looked great tonight, and Peter Laviolette definitely gave him an opportunity, putting him with two skill guys in Matt Read and Jakub Voracek. He delivered with a pretty goal and proved that he can hang with those guys. We're going to have more on Rinaldo's effort in this game in a bit because it really deserves a deeper dive, but he was solid tonight.
And not crazy. That's big too.
Tom Sestito is the one guy that's really in a roster battle with Rinaldo over that final forward position on the Flyers roster, and there's a lot going for him: his waiver situation is favorable and his contract is really tiny. But really, these two guys aren't the same player at all. Rinaldo is smallish, Sestito is massive.
And while Rinaldo might be absolutely insane, he does have a bit of skill, sort of in the Dan Carcillo mold. Not a ton, but enough to well... enough to get by. Sestito is clearly more of just a big bruiser who plays on your fourth line and beats the crap out of people. He made some mistakes tonight, but he tried to make up for them by beating the living hell out of Joffrey Lupul in the third period.
Lupul had some words for Harry Zolnierczyk, and Sestito stepped in and challenged Lupul. Loops shoved him and Sestito's fists took that as an opportunity to murder his face. It was ugly. That's what Sestito is going to bring the Flyers, and he can likely do it just as well as Jody Shelley and for a hell of a lot less money.
Matt Read had a fantastic game. He was quite possibly the best Flyer on the ice tonight. He's another guy we're going to have more on later (probably tomorrow) because there's more than we can fit in a quick little snippet here.
The two young guys we all have our eyes on, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier, were both pretty solid tonight. Couturier seemed to make more noise than Schenn, but that's what happens when you're involved in two scoring plays. Couturier's goal was basically luck thanks to a bad giveaway by Toronto's Joe Colborne, but overall he was solid tonight. Still not close to NHL ready by any stretch, but he was good.
Schenn is clearly being tested all over the ice. He played on the penalty kill and on the power play tonight and, not that we have zone start info for these games, but he seemed to be used quite a bit in the defensive end of the ice. Hopefully my eyes aren't betraying me on that.
As for guys that are going to be on the NHL roster, Wayne Simmonds was quite impressive tonight. It was just a glimpse, but he played as advertised: energetic, solid on the back check, etc. And he got a power play goal, which was neat. Had the same impression of Voracek: he was quite good, speedy, as advertised.
Didn't pay attention to the defensemen too much tonight, but Andreas Lilja, Oskars Bartulis and company didn't really stand out as horrible. So that's good. Of course, the Leafs didn't bring much of an attack all night, save for a few opportunities where they had sustained pressure in the zone.
Of note, though: Blake Kessel freakin' loves jumping up into the play in the offensive zone. It seems like he tries to do it every shift. He got a lot of ice time tonight: 20:46. Oskars Bartulis led all defensemen (and all Flyers skaters) in ice time with 21:44.
815 words is enough for a preseason game, right? Like I said, more later. For now, questions with answers and the comment of the night.
Questions with Answers
- How does Michael Leighton look these days? TV puts on a few pounds. Or maybe that's something to do with riding the pine all night.
- Considering they both play, who has a better game: Tom Sestito or Zac Rinaldo? Rinaldo, for sure. Sestito made a few mistakes with the puck and Rinaldo scored a goal. Sestito only played eight minutes.
- Same question: Oskars Bartulis, Andreas Lilja or Matt Walker? Didn't notice too much of a difference between the three. Walker was a plus-2, so you know somebody will read into that too much. Hopefully they all play again tomorrow night.
- The much anticipated sibling battles between the Brothers Schenn and the Brothers Kessel. What happens? Anything fun? Not a thing.
- We play the Leafs a lot in the preseason, which means Jay Rosehill is basically our BFF. If he's not scratched tonight, who's he fight (or try to fight)? Rosehill was a scratch. Damn. Sestito almost fought Orr in the first (I think) but that wound up not happening.
- Adam Mair and Michael Nylander. Is that fun or scary? Mair played with Sestito and Zolnierczyk. They were the fourth line, and Mair didn't seem like a defensive liability. But again, the Leafs didn't do much offensively tonight. Nylander didn't dress.
- Sean Couturier's first NHL action. Is that fun or scary? It was fun. He's not Gretzky or anything, but it was fun. Just getting his feet wet.
Comment of the Night
Rule of thumb. Don’t pick fights with guys that can easily kick your butt.
>> LVHokejs. Hopefully Lupul reads the site.