Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Flyers Preseason Recap: 9/26

The team split up for the evening, with half going to New Jersey and half going to New York. With the majority of the top end of the Flyers roster not included in either lineup, it was a good chance for the coaching and management staff to see some of the young guys in action.

And it would have been cool for the fans to be able to see them, too. But that was too much for the NHL. The Devils game was only broadcast on the radio, and the Islanders game was streamed on the Flyers' website with no game sounds and an announcer who couldn't see what was happening on the ice.

So, that part was not great. But Sons of Penn did a solid job translating the highlights to GIF form, and Micah McCurdy somehow got advanced stats charts for both games. Let's dive in.

Flyers (0) vs. Islanders (3)

I tried to watch this stream, but the combination of poor video quality and terrible announcing made it tough. I don't blame it on the Flyers, or on the announcer, because this was his setup last night:
It was always going to be shitty. But my man Brian powered through, and here's what we were able to see (kind of):

  • With the exception of late in the second and third periods, Anthony Stolarz was shelled. He gave up two goals. But, in a game that allowed for very little team practice beforehand and featured just two NHL-veteran Flyers (Michael Del Zotto and Nick Cousins), there were flashes of brilliance from Stolarz. However, he was very much outshined by the goalie in the other game (more on him later). 
  • Nick Cousins got into two fights, and neither of them was as entertaining as Tyrell Goulbourne's fight last week. 
  • The big names on the Islanders roster last night were prospects Mathew Barzal, Michael Dal Colle, Ryan Strome, and Joshua Ho-Sang. All four of them had at least one point, and Barzal was the only one of the four to not score a goal. We've known the future is bright for the Islanders, but it's scary to see it happen. 
  • In this game, they split time between defensemen pretty evenly. The two guys to watch were Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim, obviously. They both played about 20 minutes total (Sanheim had some powerplay time and Morin killed at least one penalty). Morin, whether it's in training camp or in a game situation, clearly needs more time to stew. He's going to be an absolute animal, but his puck skills and decision making need to develop naturally. Sanheim is supposed to be the guy that already has those skills, but I was a little nervous about how he looked. Granted, it was tough to follow, but the few times I noticed #57 he was doing things that were bad. 
Flyers (0) vs. Devils (2)
  • We'll start with the easiest analysis of this game. Carter Hart, by all accounts, was absolutely fantastic. He gave up one goal (the second was an empty netter). Keep in mind that this Devils lineup was made up of more than half of their actual NHL roster (Bennett, Cammalleri, Gazdic, Josefson, Kalinin, Zacha, Zajac, Greene, Lovejoy, Severson). Hart outplayed Stolarz against superior competition, and even though it's just one game it's a great sign for the goalie battle in Lehigh Valley*. 
  • The Devils may have iced an NHL roster, but the Flyers certainly didn't. Scott Laughton and Brandon Manning were the only skaters with significant NHL experience, but the lineup also included NHL hopefuls Travis Konecny, Taylor Leier, Roman Lyubimov, Robert Haag, and Ivan Provorov. 
  • Obviously Provorov is getting his own bullet. He played 29 (!!) minutes total, which includes leading the team in ice time in even strength, powerplay, and penalty kill minutes. He was as far from sheltered as a rookie can be, starting half of his shifts in his defensive zone. In a game where the 5v5 shot attempts chart essentially has every Devil in the positive and every Flyer in the negative, Provorov just about broke even in possession numbers. That includes close individual shot attempt battles with NHLers Lovejoy, Greene, Cammalleri, Zajac, and Bennett. Provy held Pavel Zacha to zero shot attempts while they were on the ice together, which is notable because Zacha was taken one pick before him. Provorov belongs in the NHL, and he proved it to us last night by holding his own against half a dozen guys who are experienced NHL veterans. 
*Update: obviously Carter Hart is only 18, so he'll be going back to juniors for at least another year. The goalie battle in Lehigh Valley will be between Stolarz and Alex Lyon. I hope you guys can all give me the credit I deserve for striving to put the best, most accurate, tremendously great product on your screen at all times. Thank you.

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