Many men and women in Philadelphia, young and old, knew what made the Philadelphia Flyers who they were during the 1970′s. The “Broad Street Bullies” were tough, skilled, determined, and because of it, were twice at the top of the hockey world. This year’s team looks to mirror what the bullies did for the city and its passionate fans.
In order to become a mirror image of the past, the Flyers have set themselves up with skill players throughout their entire lineup. The question that still remains for Philadelphia is “Who will be the big force for the checking line?” The Flyers have three candidates that could provide ample service and also, when on the ice, can change the tone of the game by getting the crowd into it.
For the Flyers, it can be hard to make their entire 4th line a group of enforcers. With players such as Maxime Talbot and Ruslan Fedotenko possibly starting on the line, coach Peter Laviolette must be smart when choosing his enforcer. Since Talbot can play both the center position as well as the wing, Laviolette has the ability to choose between these three players and make the best decision for his club.
Jody Shelley should be the first player looked at by the Flyers. When healthy, Shelley provides a spark wherever he is in the lineup. In his career, he has fought many times. He has been in the penalty box plenty of times and has been amongst the league leaders in that category a couple of times. Shelley, most of the time, has a bigger body frame than his opponents. He enforcers his will upon them. But being a 36-year old fighter could be the reason Shelley is not selected to play on the line.
Tom Sestito is a big man and on skates he is even bigger. Sestito is a 6’5″ 228 lb. 24-year old from New York. He has been known to be a big hitter in his brief career. Sestito was suspended for a hit he placed on a New York Ranger player during a preseason game, almost a year ago. Since he was sent down to the AHL after the suspension, Sestito was not allowed to be called up to the NHL when players got hurt. This season he is looking for a spot on the roster. His biggest downfall could be the fact that he is inexperienced in the NHL.
My personal choice for the final spot on the 4th line is Zac Rinaldo. As a rookie, Rinaldo played 66 games with the Flyers. He also recorded a total of 232 penalty minutes. At times, Rinaldo showed that he was young and did not have the mental toughness that the Flyers were looking for. Rinaldo took some bad penalties, just as young players tend to do. He is twenty-two years old going into this season. Rinaldo has shown that he could also help offensively while being the final option on a line. He recorded 9 points in his 66 games last season. I believe Rinaldo has the fire in his chest to make the fans jump out of their seats and go crazy.
The Flyers have three perfectly viable choices for their checking line. I believe that it is only a short matter of time until one of them steps above the others and raises his game to another level. Look for the Flyers’ enforcers to inflict their will on opponents in 2012-2013.
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