Three Goalies, Zherdev, and Pronger

A few thoughts as we enjoy the Flyers’ position on top of the NHL:

Three’s a Crowd
Having three solid goalies is not a bad thing, however, carrying three goalies for most of a season is not often a workable situation. Now that Michael Leighton has recovered from his back surgery, the Flyers have to decide what to do. They can’t send down Boucher or Leighton without exposing them to waivers, and Bobrovsky has been playing too well to even think of sending him down. Boucher has been red hot in the recent games he’s played. I don’t see how (or why) they would try to work in Leighton right now. However, it would be nice to have insurance in case one goalie goes down with injury. Look for them to carry three at least until Pronger comed off injured reserve and they have to count his salary again. This should give more time to see where Boucher and Bobrovsky stand with their play and determine which two they’ll carry toward the playoffs.

Zherdev Coming On
The Flyers knew they were taking a chance in signing Nikolay Zherdev – he has never been particularly strong defensively and has had attitude problems in other places. He has been in Laviolette’s dog house at times this season because of effort and turnovers. He does try these slick one-on-one moves in the offensive zone, which rarely work and inevitably result in a turnover and a rush the Flyers’ way. Still, he is gifted offensively and highly skilled, and is on about a 30-goal pace for the season. That’s why they signed him. But dropping him to the fourth line or the press box is not getting value from him. He needs to play with other good players and get time on the power play. Zherdev has looked good on a new line with Carter and Van Riemsdyk – I could see this line really developing into something exciting and productive. Zherdev is a work in progress but Laviolette is a good coach who may be able to turn him into a complete player who’s more defensively aware and responsible. If he matures as a player this season, he could be a gem for the Flyers.

Pronger Injury
Defenseman Chris Pronger is out six weeks with a broken foot. Not great news but this is not the worst time for an injury to the Flyers’ top defenseman. Their schedule slows down some and it’s the part of the season that drags and wears on a player. Let’s say Pronger comes back in February, takes some games to get his game back, then is fresher and healthy for the stretch drive. Meanwhile, Bartulis gets into some games and then he’s more ready if someone else is injured later on. With all the broken feet they’ve had lately, how about considering some way to put additional protection on players’ skates?

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