Photo credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Always tough to lose the opener, but you can’t find much fault in a final-minutes, fluky-goaled loss on the road against the Bruins. The Flyers played well (mostly) and had multiple chances to take the lead, but couldn’t bury them because Vinny Lecavalier is no longer good and Brayden Schenn never was.
As you know, I’m not a fan of useless padding around sporting events, and an hour for a Flyers regular season pre-game show is overkill. But. But Barkann-Morganti-Clement-Boucher is an excellent line. Barkann’s at his best when he’s playing point guard to a large ensemble. Al’s nonchalantness, which the crew compared to Kimmo Timonen’s cool under pressure and (does anyone remember whom they compared both guys to?), complements Barkann’s animation. Clement’s always been great. And Brian Boucher… mmm… there’s a reason I’ve had a man crush on him since I was 17. Much like with Danny Briere (who will one day return to grace all Flyers functions with his presence), you could see it coming for years that Boucher was going to be a Flyer for life, and rightfully so. He’s… fantastic. He even has the analyst sit down– cross arms at the wrist, keep pen at the ready, use it only sparingly to ram home a point, head on a perfect swivel between 300 and 60 degrees. Oh, and as a skinny guy, I appreciate a good-looking skinny guy. Bouche (not Boosh*) is just that. Nice rapport between all four guys.
*This will be a post one day.
Please, Flyers nuts, keep defending Zac Rinaldo. The local and national narrative yesterday was about the demise of the goon. If goons are already out of the game, then the high-energy scrapper is next. Rinaldo has virtually no skills other than having the unique ability to get under opponents’ skin. But for every stupid penalty he draws, he’ll take one (I’m being generous) himself. It cost the Flyers the game last night. His dumb, no-need penalty in the first period led to a Bruins’ goal. The Flyers lost, 2-1. This is simple math.
Sure, the high-energy thing is great. It’s fun to watch. Even better in person. But this is just a slight variant on what has plagued the Flyers for years: toughness over skill. Rinaldo tries hard. You know who else tries hard? Every other Flyer on the ice (except Vinny Lecavalier) and car rental places. Rinaldo, like Avis, just looks like he’s trying harder because he’s not talented. Like, if you put a toddler out there, I guarantee you he’d look like he was trying really hard to get that little black thing. I’mmmmmm gonnnnna get it! I’mmmmmmm gonnnnnnna get it! YAY!!!!! That’s Rinaldo. And you know what would be better? Someone who tries hard and who might actually not be a net-negative on the scoresheet. I don’t know. I just don’t get the Flyers’ (and fans’) fascination with Rinaldo.
I forgot how good he was. Here’s what I wrote after Game 7 against the Rangers last year:
Mason. This, to me, is why I’m having trouble swallowing this absurdly large pill this morning. He played outstanding. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a Flyers goalie play as well as Mason did last night. What he did at the end of the second period should be turned into a children’s story. It shouldn’t have happened. It should’ve been 4-0 Rangers, maybe 9-0. He kept the Flyers in the game, and if they won, it would’ve been because of him. A goalie, winning a series for the Flyers!
He continues to impress. He still has to show that he can be consistent over a full season, but he has all the tools to be a top 5 goalie in the league.
But please, national broadcasters, stop crediting Flyers goaltending coach Jeff Reese. This is the same guy who oversaw the cluster F that was 2011, Ilya Bryzgalov’s implosion, and watched as Sergei Bobrovsky realized his talent elsewhere. I’m just not ready to declare Reese The Goalie Whisperer until Steve Mason becomes an All-Star or wins the Vezina, because I think he’s talented enough to do so.
Wolf of Broad Street
Hey Coots– how am I supposed to sell t-shirts if you look like the Gerber baby?!
Here, Brayden, let’s play darts: