After what must have seemed like an endless weekend for Flyers veterans, their long-awaited day has finally arrived.
The first preseason game.
Well maybe they haven't been awaiting this day as much as I have, but it is here nonetheless. And assuming that The Comcast Network won't be blacked out in State College, I will be keeping an eye on this game when I can (the Phillies game's on at 7:00...at this moment Phils v. Braves is a little more important). But before I give reaction to who looks good in the preseason, who will make the team and who looks like they should be playing for the Charlestown Chiefs, I want to give my possible line combinations for opening night Oct. 7 in Pittsburgh.
These may be far from what Peter Laviolette has out on the ice for the first period, but I think these trios will produce the most chemistry and be the most successful. And as an aside, I'm making these predictions assuming Blair Betts, Ville Leino and Chris Pronger will all be 100% healthy by game one.
Carter - Richards - Zherdev
With this amount of offensive talent on one line, it should be easy for each player to put up at least 25+ goals and give 50+ assists to Richards at center. But all of that depends on how well Zherdev adapts to playing in the NHL again and if the line can create good enough chemistry with someone who apparently doesn't fully grasp the English language. Another problem with this line may be in the defensive zone, but with the Captain at center, he should make sure the other two don't get too far out of position.
Hartnell - Briere - Leino
I think (or at least I hope) this line will have absolutely no problem producing chemistry this season. They were unstoppable at times in the playoffs and are the only "for sure" line going into the season. I think Briere thrives at center and will put up close to playoff-type numbers in the regular season.
van Riemsdyk - Giroux - Guerin
With Giroux at his natural position at center, this line has the potential to be throw-up-in-your-mouth nasty. Guerin WILL make this team, force someone out of a starting job and get 20+ goals. JVR and Giroux can only get better with a veteran such as Billy-G as a linemate. van Riemsdyk bulked up in the off-season and according to Tim Panaccio, looks faster than ever on the ice as well. If this line does what I think it's capable of doing, they could see an even larger chunk of ice time come December.
Carcillo - Betts - Laperriere
Well if you add up all the players and take a look at this last line, you can see which players won't be dressing too often. I'd rather the Flyers spent the $3.3 million ($1.1 per) on a new parking space for Steve Coates than on Jody Shelley. He sucks and will be an even more expensive Riley Cote. Darroll Powe is a great fourth line player and I'm still not counting him out of that fourth line, left wing position. He may split starting games with Dan Carcillo when Laviolette tires of his antics. It's a shame both ways here because I think Carcillo has the potential and the skill set to score 20 goals in a season, and Powe is a tremendous PK man when Laperriere and/or Betts need a breather.