Yes, I'm hoping for a distraction from the HOLY CRAP THIS TEAM STINKS stuff that we've been suffering through lately.
Patrick Kaleta of the Buffalo Sabres was running around like a mad man on Saturday afternoon. He caused havoc behind the play, in front of play, in the middle of play and just about everywhere else you can point out on a diagram of Wells Fargo Center.
The obvious problem was that there was nobody to keep Kaleta in check, as Dan Carcillo and Jody Shelley both sat out of the lineup as healthy scratches. We've been over what we think of Shelley's role on the team, and it's hard to imagine Shelley's presence in the lineup on Saturday helping at all. After all, Kaleta would never drop the gloves with a heavyweight like that.
Carcillo's presence helps in that regard. He's essentially the same player that serves the same role as a guy like Kaleta (or any of those smallish pest type players: Sean Avery, Matt Cooke, Derek Dorsett, the list goes on) and he's able to cancel out any impact that Kaleta has on the game -- at least in theory.
Without that counter to a guy like Kaleta, though, there's a problem. Who fills the void, and is it even necessary to fill that void come playoff time?
Here's how the forwards looked on Saturday afternoon against Buffalo:
Leino - Briere - Hartnell
Versteeg - Richards - Zherdev
van Riemsdyk - Giroux - Carter
Nodl - Betts - Powe
I asked Mike Richards that exact question on Saturday after the game -- who fills the void? He basically ignored my question and walked away (couldn't tell you why), but I still think it's a valid question to be asked. I asked Richards solely because I see him as the guy that fills the role, both as captain of the team and a guy who's not afraid of that aspect of the game. Well, maybe some mix of Richards and Scott Hartnell and maybe somebody like Sean O`Donnell, who also isn't afraid to drop the gloves from time to time. But Richards is definitely part of that mix.
The fact is, though, that nobody can effectively cancel out a pest like Kaleta or Cooke or whoever like Carcillo can. That's his role on this team, in addition to annoying the hell out of the opposition from time to time, of course. It's a valuable role that can't really be replaced, at least not without taking something else away.
For comparison, let's look at a potential playoff lineup that would includes Carcillo:
Hartnell - Briere - Leino
Versteeg - Richards - Nodl or Zherdev
van Riemsdyk - Giroux - Carter
Carcillo - Betts - Powe
You're taking out somebody, whether it's the defensively responsible Andreas Nodl or the potentially potent Nikolay Zherdev or even somebody else, depending on the situation.
So, my question to you is this: Should the roster the Flyers put on the ice on Saturday be the playoff game roster, or should that order include Dan Carcillo? Is what he brings to the game an important-enough piece in the postseason or should that spot be used on a guy that contributes more elsewhere in the game?
And, perhaps most importantly, are the Flyers tough enough as a team to deal with an opposing pest on a committee basis? If the Flyers face Pittsburgh in the playoffs, who counters Matt Cooke?