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Gostisbehere, Morin solid while Coburn, MacDonald look awful vs. Rangers

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The Flyers started an AHL team tonight at forward, but on defense, the two young prospects out-shined what's supposed to be the top NHL pairing. It's making everybody think.

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It's silly to get too worked up over preseason, especially when your team is playing its third game in three nights and has a shit lineup on the ice as a result.

Craig Berube played three legitimate NHL forwards tonight, four if you count Jason Akeson. They actually started either right at or very close to the minimum number of veteran players a team is allowed to start in a preseason game.

The Rangers, meanwhile, started a strong lineup in their second preseason game on home ice. They were much more ready to play than the Flyers for several different reasons. That's basically why they won 6-3.

So while we're not taking things too out of context here, there are still things to be alarmed by -- namely, the Flyers top defensive pairing, which was intact tonight for the entire game and really didn't look strong at all.

Coburn-MacDonald played like utter crap

We won't pretend like Braydon Coburn and Andrew MacDonald exist in a vacuum from the trash forward unit that played in front of them tonight, and that sort of thing impacts how the Rangers jetted through neutral and gained the Flyers zone with speed. But Coburn and MacDonald looked terrible in their own end, and it is of concern.

Again, just one game with a weak lineup overall. We don't want to read into it too much. We're just saying that things didn't look pretty, while keeping in mind that this isn't the only time they've looked like this so far this preseason.

Here's the Rangers first goal in the first period, in which Coburn gave rookie Anthony Duclair about a million feet to just coast with the puck.

Goal two was even worse, and the really fun part is that the announcers weren't even done giving details of the first one by the time this one went in. Make sure you stick around for the second angle, because it really shows just how flat-footed Coburn was along the boards.

And then, as if Coburn's play on it wasn't bad enough, MacDonald just stood in front of the net and gave a half-hearted whack at the puck on Ryan Haggerty's stick. Haggerty walked right in front of Steve Mason, who must've been sitting there wondering what his supposed top defensive pairing was doing.

The pairing was on the ice for one other goal, the Rangers fifth overall. This one was on the penalty kill, but flat-footedness is again the only attribute the duo showed on this one.

I'd probably put the blame largely on Taylor Leier here -- he totally lost his man, Chris Mueller, who put the puck in the net -- but MacDonald and Coburn didn't do anything to acquit themselves either. Just really ugly stuff, and it's what we saw from these two all night long.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the lineup, the kids looked much better.

Gostisbehere & Morin .... hmmmmm

We're not saying that Shayne Gostisbehere or Samuel Morin should be NHL players yet. It's pretty clear they could use some more seasoning, especially defensively. And in Ghost's case, he's never played anything close to an 82 game season and that does mean something.

But they're making Craig Berube and Ron Hextall think about it, especially when the rest of the supposed NHL defenseman on the roster play like such crap here in preseason.

We're not just talking about Coburn and MacDonald here. Guys like Nick Schultz outside of the top six are just not very good NHL players, and it's probable Gostisbehere and/or Morin would be able to compete in this top six right now. Ultimately they're probably not going to beat out any of the top six for jobs even if they should, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't legitimately be better options right now.

Gostisbehere and Morin have skills that guys like Nicklas Grossmann, Michael Del Zotto and Luke Schenn do not, and that is extremely tempting. These guys have strengths that the Flyers as a whole lack -- poise with the puck, the ability to move the puck up ice, strong neutral zone play, and in Ghost's case, the potential for a ton of offense from the blueline.

These guys are making the Flyers think, and Ghost's cannon of a third period goal only helped the chatter. Morin also had a strong game -- not without blunders, of course, but everybody on the team had blunders tonight. All told, Gostisbehere in particular looks really strong out there, and you have to think that's part of the reason he's still in camp.

It's better that they both go play in the AHL a bit -- and unfortunately for Morin, it's the QMJHL or the NHL since he's still too young -- but this camp and their performance in training camp thus far is making it feel like both of them are closer than originally thought.