October 29 Camden Courier-Post:
“The Flyers are not paying Nik Zherdev $2 million to play on a fourth line, but that’s where he’s likely to start tonight’s game when the Flyers visit the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center.
Zherdev netted his second goal of the season in Tuesday’s 6-3 win but spent Thursday’s practice on a checking line with center Blair Betts and enforcer Jody Shelley. Andreas Nodl, who has one goal in three games this season, took Zherdev’s spot on a struggling top line with Mike Richards (one goal) and James van Riemsdyk (no goals).
Zherdev, who is a minus-1 through nine games, recently asked general manager Paul Holmgren for more playing time.
“There is no message sending here,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said of Zherdev’s demotion. “Nodl played good. I wanted to see him on that line today. He’s worked hard and he’s done what we’ve asked.”
“It’s coming,” Laviolette said. “He wants to contribute more and we want the same.”
Zherdev declined to talk to reporters after practice, a tact he used earlier in training camp when he claimed he did not speak English well enough to conduct interviews.
Despite their offensive outburst against Buffalo, several Flyers have had difficulty finding the back of the net. In addition to van Riemsdyk’s goose egg, the entire Flyers defense is still looking for its first goal. Through nine games the starting six of Matt Carle (21 shots), Kimmo Timonen (21), Chris Pronger (15), Andrej Meszaros (12), Braydon Coburn (10) and Sean O’Donnell (6) have combined for 85 shots and no goals.
“That happens,” said Pronger, who led Flyers defensemen with 10 goals last season. “We’re getting points, we’re just not cashing in. I was in the slot the other night and my stick breaks. We’re getting the chances, they’ll come.”
Holmgren said the inability of the Flyers‘ forwards to establish a consistent forecheck is the biggest reason for the goal shortage on the blue line.
“It confuses your defensemen when you don’t know whether to jump into the play or cover for their lazy (behinds),” Holmgren said. “They forwards aren’t getting the puck in deep.””
PhillySportsCentral.com – Philadelphia sports news, rumors, blogs, & message board discussion forums