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Read Practicing; Wellwood Sent Down

Guest brelic

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Per Meltzer.



As expected, the Flyers have sent Eric Wellwood back to the Phantoms today. He had a good game in the 9-2 blowout of Columbus on Saturday. Matt Read has resumed practicing.

Per Tweet from Dave Isaac of Philly Sports Daily, Erik Gustafsson is not on the ice at practice today.


With the notable exception thus far of the injured Brayden Schenn, the 2011-12 season thus far has been a fruitful one for Flyers' rookies.

Sean Couturier may hit the dreaded "rookie wall" at some point in the middle of the season, but he has already shown all of the elements of why many thought entering last year that he would be the top overall pick of the 2011 Entry Draft. He has hockey sense that is off-the-charts, making great reads at both ends of the ice.

As he matures and improves at faceoffs, Couturier really could become a serious Selke Trophy candidate. He also has nice hands around the net and makes good passes. His skating will never be pretty, but neither was Rod Brind'Amour's (although Roddy had the advantage of being the strongest pound-for-pound player in the NHL, quite possibly in the world).

Matt Read is still mending from an upper-body injury that will be helped along by the team only having one game this week. He has already shown, however, that he belongs in the NHL and is the type of player that be used in any game situation or moved around the lineup as needed. He seems more comfortable and effective at wing than center, but is better in both spots than Darroll Powe was and is clearly the superior offensive talent with more creativity.

Part of the reason why the Flyers have historically had difficulty developing homegrown defensemen has been impatience with their inevitable growing pains at the NHL level. If Erik Gustafsson (or anyone else) is going to break into the Flyers' top-six on a long-term basis, the club is going to have to deal with the learning curve that comes along with playing a difficult position. I agree with those who would like to see Gustafsson get the opportunity to supplant veteran Andreas Lilja as the sixth defenseman when Chris Pronger returns to the lineup.

Before the season, I was skeptical of whether Zac Rinaldo could control himself enough to

be an asset to the Flyers lineup. Thus far, he has made a believer out of me. He may not get much ice time but he makes things happen in terms of injecting some energy and emotion into the game.

Very quietly -- no one is really talking about him -- I think Harry Zolnierczyk has shown that he belongs in the NHL. He was good in Flyers' training camp, outstanding for the Phantoms (apart from his physical play and yapping, he racked up 5 goals and 9 points in 10 games) and has not looked out of place at all for the big club.

If only he had Andreas Nodl's size, I would say Harry Z would be a perfect third liner along with the undersized Read. Then again, if the Brown University grad were a little bigger, he wouldn't have been available as an undrafted free agent rookie last year. Lack of size should not hinder Zolnierczyk from being effective in the NHL, but I don't know how many undersized energy players like Harry Z and Rinaldo are advisable to carry.

The rise of the rookie group has suddenly given the Flyers a lot of depth in their bottom six forwards. Eric Wellwood could also have something to contribute on the lower lines, as could Ben Holmstrom and the now seemingly forgotten (and injured) Mike Testwuide.


This week on the Flyers' official Web site, I will have an article on the opposite side of the coin from the group of young veterans and NHL rookies that have come in: The Flyers' veteran leader corps of players in their mid-to-late 30s, comprised of captain Chris Pronger, alternates Kimmo Timonen and Danny Briere, and future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr.

I will post the article link here as well as on twitter when it goes live on the Flyers' site.

Apart from the group of players mentioned in the article, I would be remiss if I did not discuss the addition of 27-year-old Max Talbot to the club. With the major exception of the faceoff department, Talbot has been an upgrade to the team's lower lines in just about every possible facet.

The goals Talbot has scored have been an unexpected bonus that will likely not keep up for much longer (although the former 46-goal, 104-point QMJHL scorer, like most NHL role players is much more skilled hockey player than some realize). But his all-around play, agitating presence and positive-minded attitude and humor in the locker room are something that the team can bank on game in and game out.

It is not surprising that Talbot is quickly becoming a fan favorite in Philadelphia after being detested as a member of the arch-rival Penguins. He is exactly the type of player that you love to have on your side and hate to play against.


If Wayne Simmonds goes on to have a strong road trip in Florida and Carolina, his fight with Derek Dorsett on Saturday night -- and subsequent goal in the second period -- may be looked as a turning point that got him out of his slump.

So often when a player is struggling for points, he needs to feel that he is contributing something positive to his team before he goes on start scoring goals again. For a power forward, a fight can be part of that path out of the slump. Simmonds worked out a lot of frustrations on Dorsett (who wanted the fight in the first place) and seemed to skate taller and more confidently the rest of the night.

By the way, it a wonder why Simmonds appears so physically strong because his build is anything but what you'd expect from a power forward. He has stick legs that look like a 12-year-old's and his upper body is lean and sinewy, not heavily muscled. But there are many times when he's out there where you'd swear he was someone with a linebacker-like physique.

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3:20 p.m. flyers website


Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren updated the media today on a few questions surrounding some injured players and their current status.

Andreas Nodl, who missed the Flyers’ 9-2 victory over the Blue Jackets on Saturday continues to be day-to-day with a lower-body injury, while forward Matt Read is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

The much anticipated return of captain Chris Pronger from his eye injury will be determined on a day-to-day basis as well, however forward Brayden Schenn will be sidelined for a minimum of two more weeks with a broken bone in his left foot.

It was a maintenance day for Flyers defenseman Erik Gustafsson, who was not on the ice today for practice.

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