Report Card on Philadelphia Flyer’s Youth
The Philadelphia Flyer’s season has not started off with a bang thus far. Jiri Dopita and Pavel Brendl were both lost in the opening game and the lines since have been mixed up. Bill Barber said the team has looked the best against the Panthers. The Flyers have crushed Florida two times. In both the victories there was some questionable play from the Panthers. Jiri Dopita was hit low by defenseman Dan Boyle. In the rematch with Florida, Paul Laus jumped Ruslan Fedtenko. Jason Weimer jumped blue liner Eric Weinrich in the closing seconds of the contest. The overall feeling around the team is of an upbeat nature.
Bill Barber and Bob Clarke are not concerned over the slow start, because the scoring has picked up and the injured players will return shortly. There is just too much talent on this roster to keep them down for long. Philadelphia will only get better the longer the team plays together and cuts down on costly turnovers. The shining spot on the team is the play of the youth. The youngsters have carried the team thus far with Mark Recchi and Keith Primeau struggling. Here is a report on the young players lacing them up for the orange and black.
Justin Williams – Justin steamed rolled into the first game with 2 goals and an assist. He worked very well with Gagne and Roenick on a line. In the first 3 games this was the best line the Flyers had on a nightly basis. Williams added some much-needed weight to battle in the corners and to take a beating from physical blue liners. Justin has taken some huge hits and he seems to be somewhat fragile. Barber seems to be growingly frustrated with Williams trying to beat players one on one instead of making the safe dump in play. His defensive play needs to improve if he wishes to hold the right wing spot on the second line. Currently the whole team is struggling, so Williams has been some what of a bright spot. Many are wondering if Justin is ready to step into a role on a team that requires him to produce points. After 6 games into the season he is one of the early point leaders into he NHL. The coach made line changes and placed Justin with John LeClair and Jeremy Roenick. The line has been the best unit on the ice. Williams playing on this line should help his confidence and his point production.
Overall Grade – B
Stats – GP – 7 – 4G – 3 A – 7 PTS
Todd Fedoruk – Todd has not seen much ice time this season so far. When he has been out there he is rarely ever noticed. Fedoruk started out slow this season. His physical play has been absent. When Jiri Dopita was hit low by Dan Boyle, Fedoruk was no where to be found. Now this could be because of Bill Barber or the game was still a one-goal game. Fedoruk’s role on this team is to police the players. The hit on Dopita was arguable legal; regardless, it was uncalled for. In the first week of the NHL season, several players were paid back because of marginal hits on skilled players, Fedoruk and the Flyers have decided not to follow. Todd seems to be struggling with skating and with his positioning when he is out for the 7 minutes a game on the ice. He had 2 fights with Peter Worrell, in which he got pounded in both bouts. This time for Todd Fedoruk is crucial for him on the Flyer’s roster. He is only playing because of injuries and he has not looked good at all. Also, Todd has had 3 fights in this early season, and he has not looked good in any of them. The fans in Philly are already calling for a top rated enforcer to protect the players on the ice. There is a major problem when Mark Recchi (22) and Keith Primeau (23) are among the leaders in penalty minutes on the team. There is a clear lack of respect that the Flyers are receiving. The opposing team does not fear retribution. Todd Fedoruk must step up in his role as the enforcer.
Overall Grade – C
Stats – GP – 7 G – 1 A – 0 1 PT – PIMs – 25
Kim Johnson – The Flyers are more than pleased with this young defenseman. He plays a sound game defensively working with Eric Weinrich. The two have been producing points right and left. The major knock on Kim was that he was reluctant to take the body, the team has seen none of that so far. Johnsson has made crisp passing to get the puck out of the zone and really has a patience way about him. Kim is using his hard low shot to perfection. By far he has been the best blue liner on the team and seems to have some leadership qualities too. Kim has a tendency to pinch in the offensive zone. The coach has given him a green light to utilalized his offensive touch. Bill Barber likes to have Kim out there in pressure situations.
Overall Grade – A
Stats – GP – 7 G – 2 A – 3 PTS – 5
Brian Boucher – Last season Boucher was the most disappointing player on the roster. There was a lot of pressure on him to be the starter and quite frankly, he stunk. In the preseason he seemed to get his confidence back. Barber has given him 2 games in a row to show what he has to offer the team. Brian has took the opportunity and shined. It seems like the old “ Boooooouch “ is out there. He is not fighting the puck like last season and seems to work well with the defenseman. Boucher has made some highlight saves already in the three games. He has kept the Flyers in games in which they should have been hammered. Bill Barber said he does not label goaltenders one or two. This might be a great battle between Boucher and Checmanek. Roman let in a soft goal against the Blue Jackets that hurt the team. Brian could have a more prominate role on the team this season.
Overall Grade – B+
Stats – GP – 3 1.94 – GAA .925 PCT Record – 0 – 2 – 1
Jesse Boulerice – Boulerice has only played two games so far in the early season. He is on the roster to be the secondary enforcer and to bang bodies on the forth line. Boulerice is only 6’2 208 but he knows how to fight. Many players in the AHL fear the power that Boulerice possesses. Jesse seems to have the speed for today’s game and a willingness to take the body. Boulerice is hoping to get a chance to play more regularly. The way other teams are going after the team’s skilled players, Jesse may get his wish. The oppurnity is here for Jesse to lock down a roster spot by standing up for his teammates. If he fails, the Flyers have the resources to go out and get a top-heavy weight. Boulerice is in a tough spot because even when he plays, the 4th line only sees about 10 minutes of ice time.
Overall Grade – C
Stats – GP – 3 G – 0 A – 0 PTS – 0 PIMs – 5
Marty Murray – Marty was signed as a free agent from the St. Johns Flames of the AHL. He led the AHL in scoring last season and has a real nose for the net. The Flyers signed him for depth at the center position. This move is paying off because of the injury to Jiri Dopita. In his first game he had an assist and was easily the best player on the ice. That is saying something about the level of intensity out of the other players on the roster. Murray should remain with the Flyers for at least a month until Dopita returns. This will give Marty a chance to show the NHL what he has to offer. His size (5 ’ 9 190 lbs) has held him back for a couple years now. If he keeps his energy level up, he should get his points playing with skilled players that the Flyers have. Marty could surprise people in Philadelphia. Although he is small, Marty is very difficult to knock off the puck.
Overall Grade – B
Stats – GP – 4 G -0 A – 2 PTS 2
Jan Hlavac – Jan has struggled early in the season. The one factor is he has been playing on lines with everyone. He did net a nice goal that helped the Flyers to a tie in Columbus. Bill Barber is somewhat pleased with his speed and stick handling abilities. The one problem is that Hlavac tries to stick handle through 3 players instead of dumping the puck in the zone. He has created a lot of turnovers because of poor decisions. The effort is clearly there for this youngster; that cannot be said for some of the other players on the roster. Bill Barber will continue to play with the lines to try to get everyone going. Jan should be getting his line mate Pavel Brendl back very soon.
Overall Grade – C
Stats – GP – 7 G – 1 A – 2 PTS – 3
Pavel Brendl – Pavel was also claimed to injury in the first game. He was checked and went heavily into the boards. The Flyers have said it is a minor ankle sprain. He had skated in practice the other day. In the first game he did not look out of place and his speed kept the Panther’s defense dumb founded. When Brendl returns, he should be placed once again on the third line.
Overall Grade – Incomplete
Stats – GP – 1 G – 0 A – 0 PTS – 0
Ruslan Fedotenko – Fedtenko has displayed grit and a nice scoring touch. He has played on every line. Ruslan even played a game at center against the Blue Jackets. Philadelphia loves his work ethic and desire. The puck always seems to be around “Rusty “. This season has not been an easy one for Fedtenko. He has not skated with a steady line. Bill Barber likes to use him in all situations of the game. This being his second year in the NHL, he has looked like a grizzled veteran. Ruslan’s point total may not be high, but he has been one of the better players on the roster. Ruslan even dropped the gloves with feared fighter Paul Laus.
Overall Grade – B –
Stats – GP – 7 G – 1 A – 1 PTS – 2