By Barry Jeffrey Jr.,
Flyers may have found their masked men:
The Flyers have long had many questions about their goaltending situation, ever since Bob Clarke low-balled Curtis Joseph to the point he signed elsewhere. Since then it seems as if there has been a revolving door of interchangeable spare parts goaltenders being put into the net. The main weak point to many a powerful Flyers team.
When the Flyers resigned Michael Leighton this offseason, many Flyers fans still felt that the Flyers did not address their goalie problem. Leighton, despite his strong playoff and regular season, was judged more on his Stanley Cup troubles and his lack of real time regular season experience. Injuries to Leighton and potential backup Johan Backlund then opened the door for a man Flyers fans are simply referring to as “Bob”. Sergei Brobovsky exploded onto the scene with an amazing training camp and a preseason that opened many eyes. Coming over from Russia, with no North American experience, he supplanted incumbent Flyer Brian Boucher (who had a pretty good preseason himself), to get the nod as the opening day starter against the powerhouse Penguins.
All he did was stand on his head against a team many have as the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. He was one of the biggest reasons the Flyers, who played without Chris Pronger, ruined the Penguins opening of their new arena.
No one knows how Bobrovsky will hold up over the whole season, but the early returns are enough to give some hope for the future. The hope also does not stop with Bobrovsky because over in Europe there is another highly rated goaltending prospect that is waiting to come over to the NHL around 2012. One some Flyers fans may have not heard about. His name is Joacim Eriksson. A name, along with Brobovsky, that many Flyers fans may come to know well. Hopefully this pair of young net minders will change a position many considered a weakness for years to one of strength for a long time to come.
The Flyers management is rumored to be not very happy with Leighton, who it is being said by some hid his injury status from the Flyers until after his contract was signed. With that being said, if Bobrovsky is the real thing, will we see one of the older incumbent goalies being moved for some cap relief/draft picks? Only time will tell, but that is a legitimate question the Flyers could be asking soon.
About Bill Guerin: I wanted to see him make the team, but he looked old and slow during the preseason, so I have no big issue with his release. I do however wish they cut him for someone other than Andreas Nodl, who despite being a “skill player” has not showed much in the way of skill other than being fast. Granted he has worked on his defensive game and improved it, but for a guy who was supposed to have skill sets that were more similar to Markus Naslund than to Radovan Somik, you would think he would be able to chip in a few goals somewhere. I guess he will be the token guy that every year we will be hearing about how he keeps his legs pumping while on the ice. Luckily, he’s at least the extra man and not a starter so it is not as bad as some recent years. Then again, maybe he will surprise and step up.
Barry Jeffrey Jr. writes “The Crow’s Nest” column for PSC.
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