The Flyers season, albeit the preseason, has begun. They are 1-3, including a loss in the rookie game, thus far.
However, these are exhibition games and obviously don’t count a lick. Still, there are areas to keep an eye on. To help you determine the difference, here are some Do’s and Don’ts for preseason games.
Don’t pay attention to the final score
It doesn’t matter who wins. The coaches, and most of the players, don’t care. Their goal is to simply play well. Consider, the visiting team typically carries a host of rookies and just a handful of regulars, while the home team usually stacks the roster with their stars — that can make for uneven games. Veterans don’t like to travel in September and teams would rather showcase the best players in front of their own fans. It’s also not rare to see goalies split time in net to get work in. So, these games hardly resemble any true barometer — except the last one (see below).
Do pay attention to the individual play
Look at a player over the the six-to-eight games. Is he playing aggressive, physical and confident, or constantly making mistakes or appears out of shape? For example, take Nolan Patrick’s precision pass on Shayne Gostisbehere’s overtime goal on Wednesday against the Islanders. Starting in his own zone, the team’s second overall pick in June skated along the side boards over the Islanders blue line and threaded a tape-to-tape pass to set up Gostisbehere for the game-winning one-timer. So, Patrick showed, and has shown with similar plays in other games, that he is probably ready to play in the NHL this year.
Don’t pay attention to line formations
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol created a stir on Tuesday when he had Sean Couturier center Claude Giroux (left wing) and Jake Voracek (right) in practice. It was the first time Giroux was at wing since his first season with the Flyers. However, Hakstol is just tinkering with different combinations on offense and defense – and the captain is not immune from it. This is the time of the year for coaches to see which players mesh with, and complement, one another, and which ones are like oil and water. So, give little credence as to who is on the ice at the same time.
Do pay attention to the last preseason game
This is akin to the third preseason game in the NFL. It’s as close to the real thing as you are going to get. Although the final score is still meaningless, the coaching staff and players want to see positive results to use as a springboard to the season opener on Oct. 4 against the Sharks. So, if you are going to attend or tune in to one preseason game, this is the one.