On Sept. 29, the Philadelphia Flyers got their first win of the preseason against the Boston Bruins in the shootout, 4-3. Even though the Flyers rested key players such as Travis Konecny, Cam Atkinson, and Sean Couturier, they got the win in a hard-fought match. Both teams played phenomenally, and it was an early treat before the games start to count. What were some of the biggest things to note for Philadelphia?
Flyers Battled Against Bruins’ Stars
In this game, the Bruins had nearly all of their stars play. Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark played the entirety of the contest, forwards David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Pavel Zacha formed a pretty deadly trio offensively, and defenders Hampus Lindholm and Charlie McAvoy were also quite heavily involved. Despite the roster mismatch, the Flyers competed hard.
Overall, Philadelphia outshot Boston 36-27. Both sides had significant pressure at times, but the Flyers did a good job of doing it consistently. Hemming the Bruins in their own end frequently, they came across a few goals because of it. The Flyers were destined to lose this game with how the rosters compared, but they battled hard throughout. Even though it’s just preseason, it was very exciting to see the team play the way they did.
Cal Petersen Was Sensational
Filling in for Samuel Ersson midway through the game, Cal Petersen was the complete opposite of what he was in his first preseason game against the New Jersey Devils. When he came in, he stole the show, especially late in the third period and in overtime. He looked like the real deal in this one.
This game might have made the race to be the backup goaltender behind Carter Hart on the Flyers’ roster an interesting one. Stopping 16 of 17 shots and many of those being high-danger chances, the Flyers probably wouldn’t have won this game without Petersen. After allowing five goals against the Devils, this was a necessary game for him.
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If this is the Petersen we will be getting in the regular season, he is the clear-cut backup. At the very least, he has earned his chance to compete for the backup role to this point. It seemed a bit unlikely just a few nights ago, but he could emerge as the favorite if he keeps this up.
Bobby Brink Could Make the Flyers’ Roster
Winger Bobby Brink was dominant in this game. After having some good but not perfect rookie camp games earlier in the month, he made a case for himself to earn a roster spot on the Flyers on opening day in this game. The issue with the team’s roster construction is that it would be nearly impossible for him to slot in. However, that won’t stop him from trying.
Not only did Brink get a primary assist in this game on a very nice pass and score the game-tying goal, but he also scored the game-winner in the shootout with a fantastic backhand shot. After losing any hope he had of making the NHL last season due to a torn labrum before training camp, he has what it takes to slot into the lineup this season.
At some point, whether it is due to injuries, someone underperforming, a trade, or him earning the spot himself, he will play in the NHL with the Flyers. What was unexpected was the possibility of him making the team on day one. From the looks of it, that wouldn’t entirely be a shock.
Sanheim, Zamula Showing Chemistry
In this game, defenders Travis Sanheim and Egor Zamula were arguably the best and most consistent players on the entire ice for Philadelphia. Playing on a pair with one another, both excelled in both the offensive and defensive end. Not only were they sound defensively, but they were also aggressive in playing the position, doing a good job sealing off Bruin attackers. Based on what we saw, that could be a very strong pairing in the regular season.
With Sanheim experimenting with playing on the right side of the defense, that might be what is best for him. Coming off of a poor 2022-23 campaign and the Flyers needing bodies to play the right side, the experiment thus far has been a success.
The sample size is small, but if Zamula impresses enough and makes the Flyers’ roster, Philadelphia might be fine defensively. That’s jumping the gun a bit, but let’s remember that they were facing off against players like Pastrnak and Marchand in this game. The confidence that they both showed in this match was admirable.
Poehling Makes Flyers’ Fourth Line Dangerous
The Flyers are likely to roll with a fourth line consisting of Nicolas Deslauriers, Ryan Poehling, and Garnet Hathaway, as they have been united for back-to-back games now. This is a good unit, but it doesn’t seem like one that would really move the needle at all. With the burst that the youngest of the three showed in this matchup, he could make the line respected, and consequently a pretty good one.
Poehling’s speed is undeniable. When he was found in open ice, he was flying. This speed helped him create some nice chances, including a power play tally and an opportunity to burst into the offensive zone. This sort of electricity is rarely found on a fourth line, especially for the Flyers in recent memory.
Poehling would slot on the fourth line nicely, and he has shown that he can actually be a solid piece. At this point, he is virtually a lock for the team, and potentially for a role expansion, too. For now, he is a great depth forward who can make presumed linemates Deslauriers and Hathaway better.
Flyers Have the Ability to Compete
Again, overreacting to a preseason is usually not a good idea. Good idea or not, it is hard not to overreact a bit with an effort like the Flyers showed, despite the limitations in the talent in their lineup. This type of effort in the regular season, with a few duds sprinkled in, is exactly what makes a team with a roster lacking superstar talent competitive. The Flyers can put it all together, it’s just a matter of whether it will work in practice over a long period of time.
This was a much-needed win for Philadelphia. Preseason games generally have no correlation with how the regular season will go, but this one felt different. After a trip in Boston against some top-end players, the Flyers will have another challenge ahead of them back home at Wells Fargo Center to rematch the Devils to close out the month of September.