Tuesday night’s contest against the Devils might have been the most exciting game to watch as a fan this season.
Although the Flyers were already eliminated from the playoffs, it almost felt as if we were in the playoffs due to the excitement of rookies making their NHL debuts.
Rookies Samuel Morin and Mike Vecchione both made their NHL debuts last night for the Flyers. Morin was paired with Shayne Gostisbehere, while Vecchione was inserted on the 4th line with Chris VandeVelde and Colin McDonald.
Before the game, the Flyers let the two rookies take a few laps as the only players on the ice for warm-ups.
It may have only been his first game at the professional level, but Morin looked confident and in-control of his game. The Flyers blue line has been missing size and aggression ever since we lost Pronger. With a 6’7 frame, it was important for Morin to break-up offensive zone entries by the Devils. With such a long reach, it seemed easy for Morin to be able to do this.
Along with breaking up rushes, Morin was also positioned pretty well throughout the game. In many plays, Morin would create space without having the puck and was able to be a support outlet for Ghost, just in case he would lose the puck, or if he needed to regroup for the offensive zone rush.
These are veteran-like plays, and showcasing this talent in his first career game is very impressive. Morin is a HUGE piece to this defensive puzzle for the Flyers.
Mike Vecchione was also impressive in his NHL debut for the Flyers. He is a natural center that is solid in the face-off circle. As a two-way player, he is as good with the puck as he is without the puck. Vecchione is able to cover the ice and impede passing lanes.
The fans were also very excited before the game when the line-ups were officially announced because VandeVelde was a scratch for the first time this season. That excitement did not last long because Weal was sick and unable to play, so VandeVelde was inserted right back into the lineup.
From a coaching standpoint, Dave Hakstol was able to annoy fans by benching Konecny after he was called for a tripping penalty. Not only did he bench Konecny, VandeVelde racked up 14:52 TOI, while Konecny played only 10 minutes.
Along with VandeVelde and his over-usage, he almost played a total of 5 minutes while shorthanded.
Even though it was meaningless game, Hakstol still managed to improperly use talent on his roster. That is a problem that Hextall MUST address with Hakstol during this off-season.
A lot of fans want him gone now, including myself, but realistically, this will not happen. It will look bad for Hextall to fire his hand-picked coach that he wanted here for the long haul.
It seems as if Konecny and Hakstol already have a bad relationship, and that is not what a developing coach should be doing with this roster of young talent.
The majority seem to agree:
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(Photo Source: The Canadian Press)