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Pokémon: The Philadelphia Flyers Edition

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This is long overdue.

Some things don't need to exist. Weird colored ketchup, Jay-Z's verse in Monster, almost any novelty product involving bacon ... the list extends into eternity. I add to that list today.

An essential, but not oft-analyzed piece of the human condition is the rapid expansion into the unnecessary. If something doesn't exist, it should, whispers the human condition. Make it. Immediately. We are creators, and we do not discriminate based on requisites.

With the recent re-releases of Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow, and the announcement of Pokémon Sun and Moon, this is hot content. There was a dearth of Pokémon-related Flyers writing, so I have taken it upon myself to fill that void marginally. It does not need to exist, but now it does.

FORWARDS

BELLEMARE: RAPIDASH

Immediately when starting this article, I began to search frantically for what I thought the French-est Pokémon would be. I don't know why I thought that would be something I could discern from thin air. Pokémon are Japanese, so there's nothing French about any of them. You can't fault me for trying.

I really wanted something that captured Pierre-Edouard's brilliance. For all the flack that the fourth line gets, he is usually spared in conversations about benching, with more of the heat directed towards Eternal Linemates Ryan White and Chris Vandevelde. I think people are just distracted by his smile. I certainly cannot blame them.

So, what is the most aesthetically dazzling Pokémon I can think of? Rapidash. Easiest decision of my life. (Out of curiosity, I looked up the French translation for Rapidash. It's amazing. Galopa. Galopa!)

COUTURIER: CHARIZARD

All gingers are fire-types. That much is clear. Sean Couturier is not entirely a ginger, but his beard is ginger and that is more than enough for me.

In deciding which Pokémon Coots would be, I decided I would have to find a fire-type that was both physically imposing and dominating. Coots is that guy. If I was a first line center, I would be fucking terrified of him. He's big, he's strong on the puck, and he's a power skater. His stride and strength make up for a less than stellar acceleration. And while it may not happen often, he will fight when someone makes him mad.

Big? Doesn't know his own strength? Occasionally starts forest fires unintentionally? Sean Couturier is Charizard, powerful enough to melt glaciers and the frozen shell around your heart.

GAGNER: NIDOKING

I'll be honest, this one is totally based on appearance. Sam Gagner has some pretty big ears.

GIROUX: MOLTRES

I think it's pretty obvious why I would have chosen one of the legendary birds of Kanto to be Giroux's Pokémon. They're legendary, for Christ's sake. They're absolutely bananas strength-wise. They've got all kinds of rad moves. Some people call them "the winged mirages". I mean, this stuff writes itself. Of course I picked Moltres, the fire-type of the trio.

This is Pidgey.
LAUGHTON: PIDGEY

I'm not going to lie, I didn't really investigate this one too much. I saw Pidgey and his weird bird eyebrows, and I immediately knew where he belonged. Basically, Laughton has angry eyebrows and so does this bird-type. It fits.

RAFFL: EEVEE

Raffl and Eevee go together like peanut butter and jelly, man. Known as the Austrian Army Knife (by me), Raffl can play up and down the line-up, shifting his game to whatever the team needs at the moment. In many ways, he mirrors Eevee's most valuable ability: its evolutions. Seriously, there are eight different Eevee evolutions. And that's where Eevee's power lies! In the opportunity. In the adaptability. Plus, Eevees are so cute. I know, I couldn't help myself.

READ: ELECTRODE

Probably the most important skill in Matt Read's set is his skating speed. It made sense when he struggled last year, battling through a high ankle sprain that dramatically hindered his production. When Read's not going fast, he can't play to his potential. Electrode is the fastest of the original 151, with a base state of 140 Speed. Wow!

SCHENN: DRAGONITE

I chose Dragonite for Schenn for a couple reasons. Firstly, Dragonite looks kinda doofy, right? I mean, it's a dragon/flying-type, but look at those little wings! They're so small and cute. And Dragonite's body is just all kinds of bulky. It looks like if Just Born, the company who makes Peeps, decided to make a dragon shaped Peep. It's basically a friggin' marshmallow.

But Dragonite's cuddly exterior belies his strength. Dragonite is able to fly faster than the speed of sound. As Charlie points out, Schenn's neutral zone play has improved dramatically, "gaining the offensive zone with regularity and speed." When it's home is threatened, often goes berserk, spiraling into an wild defensive rage. Sound like Schenn, fighting...well, just about anyone?

SIMMONDS: HITMONLEE
via jhallcomics.com

I decided on a fighting type for Wayne pretty early on. After all, it rings true, doesn't it? Although definitely not a face-puncher by nature, Simmonds's power and toughness is a ruler by which other players are measured. Just ask PK Subban.

So, fighting type it is. But which? Mankey and Machop seemed too one-dimensional for a player of Wayne's caliber. He's not just a fighter, damn it! He's got other strengths! Then, it hit me. Get it? Hitmonlee? I know, it was bad. Move on.

Hitmonlee fits in all aspects. Abilities? Limber. Reckless. Holy shit, is that Wayne Simmonds or what? And based on the Pokedex entry from Red/Blue, the fighting Pokémon "runs smoothly with extra long, loping strides." That is a pretty great description of Simmonds's skating style when he's on the rush. His legs are long, and he makes really long pushes up the ice. What really nailed it for me, though, was Hitmonlee's jump kick attacks, Jump Kick and High Jump Kick. One of Wayne Simmonds's signature moves in front of the net is his jump. He's like a spring over there. It's amazing. I could make a slideshow of the pictures of him jumping up, screening goaltenders, but it would last an eternity. Seriously, I mean, the four pictures in this tweet are literally just the first four that come up when you search "Wayne Simmonds jumping" on google. I didn't even look hard!

UMBERGER: GLOOM

I've heard so many fucking opinions on what Pokémon Umberger is. I've heard these opinions from the beginning of time. I can see forever when I think about all the people in my mentions about Umberger as a Pokémon. Everyone is wrong. Magikarp and Metapod? Shameful. They evolve into semi-useful Pokémon. The real answer was always staring us right in the face. Gloom. He's always been Gloom. Gloom is a fucking nightmare. Just look at the thing. Holy God. Put it out of its misery already.

Gloom is based off of the Rafflesia flower, more commonly known as "the corpse flower" for the smell the flower emits, something akin to rotting flesh. Yum. And what abilities does Gloom have? Chlorophyll. Can you think of a more boring ability? The ability to photosynthesize? Good lord. And what's Gloom's hidden ability? Fucking stench. Because of course it is. And yeah, Gloom isn't even the final evolution. Umberger's not good enough for Vileplume status, which is still fucking horrific but slightly less so. He is Gloom. I'll hear nothing to the contrary.

VANDEVELDE: SAWSBUCK

Initially, I was sticking to the original 151 for this, but for Chris Vandevelde, I had to make an exception. I don't even have a good reason for this pick, which I know will frustrate and annoy all of the six people who read this, but I don't mind. I will take the criticism, and I will take it gladly. There is something so incredibly regal about Sawsbuck, and for whatever reason, I find that echoed in Chris Vandevelde.

VORACEK: ARCANINE

Man, I love Arcanine. Arcanine is the best. Fiercely loyal, brave, and beautiful. What more could you want from a Pokémon? Of course Jake Voracek is Arcanine. Look at his mane. It's wild and voluminous. Look at him skate. He's so fast. Look at him stand up for his teammates! Like Arcanine, the source of Jakub Voracek's power is the flame burning ferociously inside him. How wonderful. Arcanines are the Great Pyrenees of the Pokémon world, and Jake Voracek is the Great Pyrenees of the human world. It all fits.

WEAL: STARMIE

What the fuck is a Starmie? I still don't know. Is it a starfish? If so, why does it look like a rock? And the gem core? I don't know. I think that sums up how I feel about Jordan Weal. I don't know him well enough to decide anything, which ironically enough led me to my decision.

WHITE: MANKEY

Mankey is a fighting-type, and Ryan White will destroy anything that moves if he's able to. Next.

DEFENSEMEN

DEL ZOTTO: KAKUNA

Much like Kakuna, Michael Del Zotto's only move is Harden, and you know what? As I type this, I realize why he blocked me on twitter.

Ninetails has nine tails.
GOSTISBEHERE: NINETAILS

I'm not making Mr. Shayne Gostisbehere a ghost type just because his name happens to sound a little like the word "ghost". It's a stretch and I don't think it even fits, so stop typing up your essays about why I'm wrong. I don't care. He's Ninetails because holy shit, have you ever seen Ninetails? That thing is mythical and majestic as shit. Has anything been more magical than Shayne in the past year? I can't think of one thing, even unrelated to hockey.

Looking more seriously at this, Ninetails is said to be a very vengeful Pokémon, cursing those who harm it. Can't imagine a situation where Shayne Gostisbehere would curse the NHL? Oh, I don't know, maybe if he loses the Calder? I know. He'd haunt the shit out of the league. Ninetails are also said to be very intelligent, understanding human speech easily. Shayne Gostisbehere takes direction very well, soaring under the guidance of power-play specialist Claude Giroux. If that doesn't convince you, I don't know what would.

GUDAS: ONIX

Gudas has been surprisingly solid this season, astounding many with his defensive play. Of course, for all of the fun times, there's been an equal if not greater amount of Gudas-hitting-people-when-he-shouldn't times. He's a rock-type, for sure. Onix makes the most sense because, as Onix tunnels underground, it emits a loud roar that is probably pretty frightening and causes tremors in the Earth. I bet that would appeal to Radko Gudas.

MACDONALD: PSYDUCK

Can you believe I have to include him on these things again? Me neither, seems like a cruel joke.

Psyduck is in a constant state of confusion resulting from a terrible headache. If the headache gets serious enough, usually Psyduck, a water-type, exhibits traits of a psychic-type. Psyduck channels the pain into strong psychic powers. Usually, it is unable to recall its psychic episodes, much like when Andrew MacDonald makes a good play and then seemingly forgets how to play hockey afterwards.

MANNING: MACHOP

I always assume Brandon Manning is much smaller than he actually is. I don't know why. I think it's because I also believe Brandon Manning is younger than he is? He has a youthful face. Anyhow, I think it's clear that Manning is yet another fighting-type. He's not afraid to throw down. That takes guts. What's Machop's first ability. That's right. Guts. Nailed it.

MEDVEDEV: ALAKAZAM

Medvedev is Alakazam, a psychic-type Pokémon, because he'd have to be able to read Dave Hakstol's mind in order to get his way into the lineup and stay there.

SCHULTZ: TANGELA

This is just another one that I was stuck on, so I thought about Pokémon I don't like to look at and now here we are. It's a mess of vines! What's under all of those vines? Why is it pitch black under there? I'm shuddering.

STREIT: SANDSLASH

Let's face reality: Mark Streit is 38, and he won't be here forever. It depresses me. Something about Mark Streit's presence has been stabilizing. Comforting. And tough as nails, too! Remember the pubic plate detachment? That was something else. Why Sandslash, then? Sandslash has a tough hide, making it an incredibly durable Pokémon. They use their claws offensively and defensively, both to slash and to burrow. Sounds good, but it gets better. Their claws also break off. Regularly. Just like that! But they grow back quickly. How long was Mark Streit out? 19 games? Only 19? FOR A PUBIC PLATE DETACHMENT? Unreal.

Goaltenders

MASON: LAPRAS

I've felt for a while that Steve Mason is a water-type. Something about him is just very calming and reminiscent of the ocean. That might be a bit silly, but I digress. Regardless of the silliness, Mason has the tendency to put the team on his back and carry them through the most difficult stretches of the season. This is eerily reminiscent of Lapras, who quite literally carries people across large bodies of water. Lapras is gentle and reliable, very much like our Steven.

NEUVIRTH: RAICHU

I've said for a long time that Michal Neuvirth is not actually a man, but a mouse masquerading as a man. Finally, I get a chance to explain myself fully. Essentially, Neuvirth is a small, sweet man who bears resemblance to a small, sweet mouse. Now, in determining his Pokémon, obviously I first went to Raticate. But here's the issue with calling Neuvirth Raticate ... Raticate is awful and I hate it. Not cute at all! Not even anything special! But Raichu? Oh man, Neuvirth is SUPER Raichu.

First of all, Raichu is adorable. Just look at his little cheeks! So round and cute! The lightning bolt tail? Amazing! Pikachu evolved into something somehow sweeter, making zero sense, but I love it. But underneath that lovable exterior, Raichu is dangerous as fuck. According to the Pokedex in FireRed, Raichu's charges can reach up to 100,000 volts. In case you were wondering, that's about average for a stun gun. Raichu is a pocket size stun gun with sustainable voltage. Funny enough, this Michal Neuvirth save has roughly the same effect on me.