The Flyers opened the 2013 Preseason Sunday night with a split-squad affair in London, Ontario, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Unfortunately, it ended a 4-3 loss, but there were certainly a few insights to take away from the game. Here are some of the news and notes from the tilt:
- Zac Rinaldo, who was his usual wrecking ball of energy, left the game in the 3rd period with the dreaded “upper body injury”. Although it is too early for speculation when it is labeled as such it usually turns out to be a concussion. We can only hope it’s something minor as Rinaldo was primed to be an integral part of the Flyers bounce-back campaign.
- Steve Mason struggled out of the gate with 3 first period goals. However, when you look a little closer you’ll see that two were scored on breakaways (one by Nazem Kadri and one by Mason Raymond), and the third was a tough point blank shot that Mason almost got with a kick save. It’s hard to fault Mason entirely for the 3-0 deficit. The bright side is that all three goals came early and Mason settled down nicely.
- 2012 3rd round pick Nick Cousins may have been the most active Flyer throughout the contest. He even netted a nifty backhand goal off a wrap-around shot by veteran Hal Gill. Scouts have long criticized his skating as his major drawback, but I thought Cousins showed NHL-level mobility all night. Cousins could very well be a darkhorse candidate to make the big club this season.
- Top prospect Scott Laughton had a somewhat inconsistent night but he wasn’t invisible. Skating alongside Matt Read and Scott Hartnell on the top-line, the 19-year old did not look out of place.
- Netminder Anthony Stolarz, a 2nd round pick a year ago, allowed a goal on his second shot and then was stellar the rest of the way. His post to post reflexes are elite and he does a solid job staying square to the shooter. Overall, it’s easy to see why scouts compare this 6’6” kid to Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators. Goalie of the future right here.
- Erik Gustafsson continued to show the good, the bad, and the ugly, that has plagued him at the NHL level. Two of Leafs first three goals were a direct result of Gus making a poor decision at the opponents blueline. But there were also times where he made some pretty nifty offensive plays. I think we’re just going to have to take the good with the bad when it comes to Gustafsson’s development.
- The veteran defenders (Grossmann, Meszaros, Schenn, and Gill) all played steady games.
- Brayden Schenn was active and scored the first of what we hope is many goals this upcoming season.
- Scott Hartnell appeared to be in much better shape compared to last season, which only bodes well for the Flyers top-line of Hartsy-Giroux-Voracek.
- Matt Read appeared to be in mid-season form. He was flying up and down the ice
Overall, it was an entertaining game for a club featuring only a handful of regulars. There were certainly some positives and certainly some areas that will require work,
The Flyers preseason continues Monday night with two split-squad games, one in Washington and one back against these Toronto Maple Leafs.