Preseason hockey is always entertaining, because it's played at full-tilt, most of the definite members of the big club get a lot of playing time, and everyone else on the ice is going all out to try to get their names on that roster. Despite being winless before tonight's 5-2 stomp of the Red Wings, there have been some positives from the guys who are either new to the team on the bubble of making it. Tonight, James vanRiemsdyk strengthened his case for a roster spot,* scoring twice, giving him three goals on the preseason. So far, it's been a great showing for JVR, who has a lot to prove to the organization.
Ray Emery got a planned full-game start in front of the home crowd, and he was impressive in stopping 28 shots. Dan Carcillo, who has some fans to win over here after coming over in an unpopular salary-dump trade, scored a gorgeous goal on Chris Osgood, which was assisted by Chris Pronger. Danny Briere opened the scoring less than a minute into the game, and Claude Giroux generated two assists. So yeah, in short, the elements of the game that everyone came out to see went just about perfectly—about as good as it gets for a preseason game.
Winger Mika Pyorala is hearing casual praise from the media covering the team, and he could be an interesting player to watch this week. He's 28 and hasn't played in the NHL so far, but he's getting some long looks with different combinations, and he scored a first period goal and assisted on another tonight. *Interestingly, it could be JVR that he's up against for a roster spot. The #2 overall pick who is lighting up the preseason box scores may seem like the easy choice, but it all depends on what role the team needs from that roster spot. If it's a limited-minutes guy, JVR is definitely not a lock; in the AHL, he'd get a lot more minutes. Stay tuned on that one... Simon Gagne returned to play after taking some time off with a groin injury sustained at Team Canada camp. Gags had 4 shots on goal, damn near scored when jamming at one in the crease... Blair Betts had the night off, and most people seem to think he has the fourth line center role locked up. Let's hope so. The PIM-prone Flyers may need his solid penalty killing, and he's known as a good faceoff man, which was a painful weakness the team had last season.
Overall, a great start at the Wachovia Center. Just under 10 days left...