"It's just preseason."
Keep telling yourself that, chief. As far as every young Flyer is concerned, it's the Stanley Cup Final. And if you caught last night's effort, you'd never know the difference.
Though very little of the big names dressed against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tuesday evening's first preseason game gave many of the younger guns a chance to prove their hype and hopefully gain more consideration from the Flyers brass.
There were a few things to take away from last night's 4 - 0 victory; One of which is Sergei Bobrovsky's first shutout performance in a Bullies sweater. If you remember correctly, the Flyers got as many shutouts in the 2010-11 season as Jean-Claude Van Damme got Academy Awards in his lifetime...
And here's Sergei putting on a 27-save clinic the very first time the Flyers took the 2011-12 ice.
Is it an omen? Could be.
Another major positive was actually getting to witness Zac Rinaldo putting all those months of self promotion to the test.....and passing with flying colors (no pun intended).
The 5'11", 180 pound winger always seemed to have never been able to expand his role past that agitating nutcase on the ice. He was rumored to make Dan Carcillo seem like an English gentleman. So you could only imagine how surprised the Orange and Black nation was to see Zac light the game's first lamp 7-minutes into the 2nd period.
His influence was not only affecting the bulbs on the scoreboard, but the kid never quit exerting endless energy on each and every rep (10:36 of total ice time).
Our 1st Round, 8th Overall Draft pick, Sean Couturier, finished the tilt with a +/- 2, 1 assist and a 3rd period goal that came off a turnover in front of Toronto's netminder, James Reimer.
"I was kind of nervous, but once you get going, you feel pretty good. I tried to approach it like it was any other game, but for sure it was something special."
Something I've been saying since acquiring Wayne Simmonds is that it won't take very long before Flyers fans begin to love the guy. His power play goal in the 2nd, and the one-on-one breakaway which lead off of his poke checking at neutral ice, were two perfect plays to set the groundwork for the inevitable immense fan following.
Throughout the remaining days of camp and preseason, I wouldn't be shocked if Peter Laviolette experimented with Wayne by skating him on a Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell scoring line.
And is it just me or did Simmonds seem to be much, MUCH taller than anyone anticipated? I mean, I checked out highlights of him playing in a Kings sweater, but he seemed to be more stocky then than what he looked like last night.
Nevertheless, the man was a force, and jumped up on the list of new players I'm very excited to see gel with our regulars.
Prior to hitting the ice, Brayden Schenn and Blake Kessel had more than just a Flyers crest in common. The forward and defenseman were both going up against their older siblings dressed in Toronto blue.
Luke Schenn (D) and Phil Kessel (F) were two players active on the Leafs roster last night. Momma Schenn warned her sons that there better not be any fighting between the two, while Phil wished Blake a great game.
The two young Flyers were among those who lead their squad in ice time (Kessel 20:46, and Schenn 17:57).
Luke offered his analysis on his little bro --
"I thought he played pretty well, nothing flashy but he was sound defensively, good on faceoffs and strong on the penalty kill."
Speaking of penalty killing; our boys went shorthanded a total of nine times.
And guess what? They stopped 'em all.
Andreas Lilja, Matt Carle and Erik Gustafsson lead the PK charge from the blue line and in the defensive zone, while Bobrovsky managed to shutdown the vulcanized bombardment and turn the panties back in Philadelphia into soaked koosh balls.
Overall it was a relieving display of genius defensive play, patience, and finish. Not enough to knock the sour taste outta our mouths from last year's QuarterFinals, but it was definitely exciting to see the hardworking execution and delivery come from a few new faces and younger talent.
Something's certainly telling me that tonight's preseason home opener at the Well is going to produce enough electricity to power Air Force 1 around the world niiiiiiiiine times.....