Flyers Still Hot, Smoke Islanders

By MATTHEW NADU
Staff Writer — matthew.nadu@yahoo.com
_________

The power and uncertainty of Wall Street can even be felt right here in Philadelphia. Just look at the transformation from the Wachovia Center to the Wells Fargo Center as you step out of the Broad Street line.

Once you step inside the home of the Flyers though, there’s nothing uncertain at all.

With a newly named home, new away retro jerseys and Jeff Carter’s new bleach blonde doo, the Flyers (4-1-1) seemed unphased to change jumping out to an early 3-0 lead against a New York Islander (0-1-0) split squad that had no answer to the Flyers offensive onslaught Wednesday night at the WELLS FARGO CENTER.

The Islanders, playing in their first preseason game, could not control an early scorching hot Flyers offense led by Jeff Carters’ two goals in the first period and undrafted rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 saves as the Flyers won their fourth in six preseason games 3-1.

With goalie Michael Leighton out for at least a month with a bulging disk in his back, Bobrovsky (3-0-1) or just “Bob” as the players are calling him, made yet another strong case to make the opening day roster as Brian Boucher’s backup saving 32-33 shots against New York and 65 of 68 total (.956 save percentage) to record his third win.

It’s only September and already the playoff beards are out in all their glory.

Okay, it’s way to early to assume the Flyers will repeat as Eastern Conference Champions but it’s only theirs to lose. With the 2010-2011 season opener October 7 at interstate rival Pittsburgh, Philadelphia has looked sharp so far this preseason. They will play a home-home series against the Sabres on Friday October 1 at home before ending the preseason at Buffalo on Sunday October 3.

Then it’s time to defend the ice.

The Flyers offense has been hot this preseason led by Nikolai Zherdev (4) and Carter (3) in the goal column while the team is averaging three goals per game. Wednesday was no different as the Flyers out shot the Islanders 36 to 33.

The Carter, Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino line look especially impressive against the Islanders with Hartnell (1) and Leino (2) both adding assists.

“Feels slow and bulky out there but I had some success and it feels good,” said Leino after the first intermission.

Along with Bobrovsky’s stellar performance including back-to-back diving stick saves with just under 14 minutes to go in the first period, players like right winger Andreas Nodl are feeling the early season heat as they make a push to secure roster spots.

Nodl, who was drafted 39th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, made his Flyers debut last season and knows first hand how important these preseason games are. “I’ve been cursed,” he said after failing to score his first goal against a shaky Islander defense.

With so many strong forwards on the team, Nodl may start this season in the AHL.

Other second year players such as James van Riemsdyk, who was tied for the team and rookie lead with six game-winning-goals in 2009-2010, have been more fortunate. “It feels good to bury one,” said JVR who notched his first preseason goal as part of the first period scoring frenzy.

Still, nothing is set in stone. Not yet anyway.

One thing is for sure though, the Flyers will definitely feel the impact of the loss of Leighton and Ian Laperriere, who the team announced is out indefinitely due to post concussion syndrome. Chris Pronger has also yet to make an appearance after off-season surgery.

Whether Pronger will make the opening day roster depends on his own health and the play those vying for that sacred roster spot. Right now it’s up in the air.

So despite all the certainty’s, perhaps there are some uncertainty’s inside.

We’ll find out October 7th.

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