Rookie Game: Capitals at Flyers, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011, 5:00 PM (ET)
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09-16-2011, 09:38 AM
A Fistful of Dollars
Join Date: Jan 2004
A couple of post-game articles:
WELLS FARGO CENTER — Yes, he’s a defenseman, but Blake Kessel has found the center of the spotlight. Thursday night’s rookie game marked the first game in a Flyers uniform for Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier, but instead all the reporters circled around the 22-year-old blueliner who was just given a contract by the Flyers on Wednesday and celebrated by scoring a goal and adding an assist.
“It was something I always dreamed of and I can’t think of a better organization, a first-class organization to be a part of, so I am really excited about it,” Kessel said.
He was drafted by the New York Islanders in 2007, but didn’t sign there because he thought he could get a better opportunity elsewhere.
“It seemed like they didn’t have a spot for me at the time,” he said. “They had a couple other young guys that they were going to look at before me, so it just didn’t work out with them at the time. They had been developing their organization over the last few years really well and they had some great young defensemen, so that was kind of the way they went and it was not my direction.”
On a night Flyers fans had their first good looks at new top prospects Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier, Kessel lived up to the family name by putting on a show for a Wells Fargo Center crowd of 11,000 that showed up for free to watch a rookie game against the Washington Capitals.
In a second-period flourish, Kessel set up the equalizer and scored the go-ahead goal 2:29 apart, and the Flyers went on to win 3-2.
“I couldn’t be happier with the (Kessel) name because I love my brother,” said Blake, who at 22 is a year younger than Phil. “He and I are like best friends. It does put a little pressure on you, obviously, but I like the pressure. Everyone is going to compare you, and it’s hard to be compared to him, but I’ll try my best.”
This definitely was a good first impression by Kessel, who signed an entry-level contract with the Flyers on Wednesday after being shunned by the New York Islanders, who had taken him in the sixth round of the 2006 Entry Draft.
Houser held off the Caps' rookies, especially in the third period when the opposition turned it on and eventually pulled their goalie to get an extra attacker on the ice. He was cool under pressure. Houser did yield one goal in the game, but he finished very strong. The Caps' rookies outshot the Flyers, 26-24.
“It felt good. It’s hard to come in halfway during a game, but you have to just stay mentally prepared while you are on the bench, watch the game closely and be ready when your name is called,” Houser said. “It was a pretty close game out there and it was high tempo and the guys were flying, so it was a good game to play in and it was fun.”
During the game some fans, who are always inventive and were in mid-season form, started chanting “Doogie, Doogie”, a take off of the former network television show, “Doogie Howser, M.D”. The hope was that the backstop heard them, but Houser's focus was strictly on the game.
WELLS FARGO CENTER — With a specific mention from general manager Paul Holmgren earlier in the week and rise-from-your-seat goal in Thursday’s rookie game against the Washington Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center, previously unknown 21-year-old Tyler Brown has made a name for himself in the Flyers’ organization.
“I’m speechless about it,” said Brown after the Flyers’ 3-2 win. “It was my first real game and it feels great getting it off my back. I thought I played pretty well and there is more I can do. I’m looking forward to the rest of camp.”
Already earning the eyes of the Flyers’ brass during the drill-heavy camp, which on Thursday included in-house appearances from Ian Laperriere, Peter Laviolette, Craig Berube and Holmgren, Brown performed noticeably well under the spotlight displaying good vision, quickness and offensive instincts.
“He showed what he can do today, he has very good speed and scored a very nice goal,” said Holmgren of Brown. “He had some good opportunities. He was able to get in some good areas because of his speed.”
Although Sean Couturier earned an assist on Blake Kessel's power play goal in the second period, the eighth overall pick of the 2011 Entry Draft did not look like a player who is ready to compete in the NHL. He was frequently knocked off the puck and did not show the sort of explosive stride necessary to gain separation and create operating room. More muscle and more skating work are definitely needed, although this was only one game.
Brayden Schenn did not get on the scoreboard in this game but was the best player on the ice at certain junctures of the game (although Washington's Cody Eakin was the best player over the balance of the game). Schenn never really dominated in the game, but you could see that he possesses a skill level and degree of polish to his game that is a cut above most of the others who were on the ice yesterday.
Kessel has always possessed a good shot, so it was not all that surprising to see him score a goal in the game. He also earned an assist. There is work to be done on his defensive game -- both he and partner Oliver Lauridsen got in self-created trouble at times -- but the Flyers knew going into camp that the former UNH defenseman is still a work in progress.
Even before the rookie game, Tyler Brown was cited by Paul Holmgren as the camp's most pleasant surprise. He lived up to that yesterday as well, not only scoring a goal but also displaying NHL caliber speed. His upside is as a checking line type but he's still a player to keep an eye on with the Phantoms as a rookie this season.
A giant among racehorses,
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, May 19, 2015
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