The Flyers special teams finally got on the board in a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
With the preseason coming to a close the lineup is beginning to shake-out, but questions remain due to bizarre injuries.
After a slow start in the scoreless first period, the Flyers managed to score two power play goals in the second by James van Reimsdyk and Nikolay Zherdev. This is after going 0 for 18 on the power play in the first six games of the preseason.
The penalty kill has also been on the rocks, allowing six goals on 27 attempts, but it’s improved since Blair Betts returned to the lineup on Wednesday against the Isles. They went on to kill off a 5-on-3 in the third against the Sabres, and Blair Betts capped off the night with an open net goal.
Although the Sabres outshot the Flyers 33-26, Brian Boucher looked in mid-season form, seeing pucks and making saves from all directions. And although Johan Backlund was reported to be backing Boucher up for this game and possibly even play the third period, Sergei Bobrovsky dressed as his back-up. Look for Boucher and Bobrovsky in Pittsburgh in next week’s regular season opener.
On Wednesday night against the Isles split-team, the Flyers gave up 33 shots on goal, and again tonight the same was true. There were defensive break-downs all over the ice, and without Boucher bailing them out, the game could have gone to the Flyers fifth shootout in seven preseason games.
The loss of Chris Pronger on defense has caused a huge hole. Several sources have reported that he won’t see any ice until Sunday, which means he won’t play in any of the preseason games and it’s still undecided whether he can be ready in time for the Penguins next week. It’s possible the Flyers may open the season with Kimmo Timonen, Erik Gustafsson, Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle, Andrej Meszaros, and Sean O’Donnell.
The final forward spot on the roster has been narrowed down to Bill Guerin and Andreas Nodl. Guerin has been sitting out the games with an infected cut on his elbow and won’t see any action until next week. But there are no surprises in the 39-year-old’s game, and Nodl is being given every opportunity to prove he deserves the spot. Although Nodl is an excellent defensive player, if he can’t find the net in the final preseason game, look for Guerin to get a contract.
A note reported on the Philadelphia Flyers website, Zherdev has asked to have his first name spelled with a “y”, instead of an “i” making him Nikolay Zherdev.
The Flyers travel next to Buffalo for their final preseason game on Sunday, October 3rd, at 6:00PM. After that, Paul Holmgren has until Wednesday to make his final roster decisions.