RANDOM THOUGHTS AFTER FLYERS PRESEASON OPENER
What does this mean?
It means they can't win in Joe Louis Arena even when the games don't really count!
I jest, but it has been since the Reagan administration since they won a game there (11/4/88).
No, the loss means absolutely nothing.
But, the way certain players played means a lot.
Here's what I gleaned this morning after talking to some people who were in Detroit for the game (I wasn't by the way).
-Blair Betts is going to make this team as a depth center. Whether it's on the third or fourth line remains to be seen, but he's a good faceoff guy, and excellent penalty killer, and a classic mucker and grinder - which you all know the Flyers love. He was paired with Ian Laperriere on the top PK unit. Of course, Mike Richards and Simon Gagne were in the press box watching the game rather than playing in it, but methinks guys like Betts and Laperriere will make life easier on those two on the PK.
-James van Riemsdyk is being given every chance to make this team out of camp. I'm not saying that because he scored the only goal for the Flyers, but the fact is, they want to see what he can do playing with high-skill guys against other high-skill guys in game situations. From what I'm told the goal wasn't anything pretty, and maybe even should have been stopped by Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, and van Riemsdyk did have a couple of other moments where he looked every bit the 20-year-old rookie and not a budding superstar. While he will garner serious consideration, I still think he starts the year in the AHL with the Adirondack Phantoms (that's just as weird to type as it is to say, believe me) but makes it to the big club by the Holidays.
-Chris Pronger logged 26 minutes of ice time. How's that for a first day with a new team? If there was still any doubt that he was going to be the go-to hammer on the blue line, that should settle it. I know Kimmo Timonen sat out the game, but expect Pronger to be right around 25 minutes every night.
-The Flyers remained undisciplined, giving Detroit 7 power play opportunities. They held Detroit off the scoreboard with the man advantage, but bear in mind the Wings didn't have all of their bullets. If there's one thing the Flyers should have learned from last year it's this: too many penalties wear you out. No matter how good the penalty killers are, they're skating through pudding in the third period if they've had to spend 12-15 minutes killing penalties. These Flyers need to learn how to draw the line of discipline.
-Ray Emery was sharp, stopping 23 of 25 shots in the first two periods and especially looked good when the team was shorthanded. Brian Boucher had a decent third period, stopping nine of the 10 shots he faced. I know it's only one exhibition game, but I'm starting to get the sense, after talking to Emery and getting a glimpse into his outlook for the season, that the Flyers goaltending situation will finally be settled. Of course, it could blow up if any of Razor's past demons reappear, but he seems hell-bent on that not happening this time around. Good for him and likewise, good for the Flyers.
-Finns Mika Pyorala and Joonas Lehtivuori got a long look last night, and from the accounts I was able to glean, both played well. The Flyers like both players and think they have NHL futures. Right now I think Pyorala, who is a more mature 28-year old, has a better than average chance of cracking the Flyers roster out of camp. Lehtivuori will likely be the top call-up from the Phantoms in case of injury and is probably No. 8 on the defensive depth chart right now.