Bill Meltzer: Meltzer’s Musings: Flyers In Cape Cod, Phantoms, Prospects, Rookie Renberg

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FLYERS IN CAPE COD: DAY ONE

Before getting down to the business of preparing for their regular season opener on Wednesday against the Boston Bruins, the Philadelphia Flyers had some fun on the first day of their team retreat to Cape Cod. players played paintball and then held a team barbecue. There will be an on-ice practice tomorrow, followed by a deep-sea fishing trip later in the day.

In more hockey-related matters, there is still no update on the progress of Wayne Simmonds. The power right winger, who skates on Sean Couturier’s line at even strength and as the net-front presence on the first power play unit, remains questionable with a lower-body injury suffered in Tuesday’s preseason win over the New York Rangers.

********* PHANTOMS GO WINLESS IN AHL PRESEASON

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms finished the AHL preseason with an 0-3-0 mark after dropping a 2-1 decision to the Albany Devils at the PPL Center on Saturday night. The Flyers’ AHL affiliate scored just one goal apiece in each of their three exhibition matches, losing a pair of 3-1 games to Hershey prior to Saturday’s loss to Albany.

Goaltender Rob Zepp made his Phantoms preseason debut in this game, and was sharp in stopping 26 of 28 shots. Former Trenton Titans netminder Scot Wedgewood was even better in turning back 27 of 28 Phantoms offerings.

The game was scoreless for the first 35 minutes before Albany broke through for the first of two power play tallies. Devils defenseman Raman Hrabarenka put the New Jersey Devils’ AHL farm club ahead with less than five minutes to play in the middle stanza. Early in the third period, Graham Black doubled the lead on a deflection goal that Zepp had no chance to stop.

Lehigh Valley finally got on the scoreboard with 10:04 remaining in regulation. Young forward Kevin Goumas, who played 11 late-season games with the Phantoms last year, cashed in a feed from defenseman Mark Alt. Brandon Manning received the other assist.

The Phantoms pressed for a tying goal but were unable to solve Wedgewood a second time. A late-game boarding penalty on Manning hurt Lehigh Valley’s comeback chances. There was no further scoring by either team.

Rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, rookie center Scott Laughton and veteran forward Andrew Gordon led the Phantoms with four shots on goal apiece. Gostisbehere was paired with Manning during the game, while fellow rookie Robert Hägg worked with second-year pro Mark Alt and rookie Jesper Pettersson played right defense paired with veteran Oliver Lauridsen.

Laughton started the game centering a line with Taylor Leier and Gordon. Nick Cousins centered Petr Straka and Brandon Alderson. Veteran enforcer Zack Stortini fought Albany defenseman Brandon Burton in the first period and later received a boarding minor.

********* FLYERS PROSPECT UPDATES

* QMJHL: Flyers 2013 first-round pick Samuel Morin made his return to the Rimouski Oceanic lineup one day after being reassigned by Philadelphia to the QMJHL team. Morin played a strong game in a 3-2 win over the Blaineville-Boisbriand Armada on Saturday afternoon. He was especially good in the first period, delivering several hits and breaking up a potential outnumbered rush with his long reach. In the second period, Morin chipped in a power play assist. Late in the game, he helped his team nail down the win.

* QMJHL: Flyers 2014 second-round pick helped triggered a comeback for the Val-d’Or Foreurs in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Moncton Wildcats. With Val-d’Or trailing 2-0 in the second period, Aube-Kubel sniped a goal from the right circle with a perfectly placed shot under the crossbar. Later, he created a scoring chance with a perfect pass that triggered a rebound goal to tie the game. Aube-Kubel had a good scoring chance late in overtime but his shot got partially blocked. In the shootout, Aube-Kubel tried to go high to the glove side but got stopped. Meanwhile, Ivan Barbashev (St. Louis Blues 2014 second-round pick) had two regulation goals for Moncton and then scored the game-winner in the shootout.

* WHL: Flyers 2014 first-round pick Travis Sanheim racked up his third multi-point game in the team’s last four matches as he compiled a pair of assists, six shots on goal and a plus-three rating in the Calgary Hitmen’s 6-4 win on Saturday night over the Kootenay Ice. In the meantime, Flyers 2014 sixth-round pick Radel Fazleev scored his first goal of the regular season for Calgary. Fazleev registered a half-dozen shots on goal in this game among the 39 Calgary fired on Wyatt Hoflin’s net.

********** TODAY IN FLYERS’ HISTORY: RENBERG’S NHL DEBUT STARTS RECORD RUN

On October 5, 1993, Mikael Renberg made his NHL regular season debut for the Flyers. Coming off a strong preseason, the 21-year-old rookie from Piteå, Sweden quickly gained the confidence of the organization.

In his NHL debut, Renberg assisted on Dmitri Yushkevich’s game-winning goal in the third period of the Flyers’ 4-3 opening night win against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Spectrum. Renberg posted points in three of his first four NHL games, including his first NHL goal (scored against Buffalo’s Grant Fuhr) in a 5-3 win over the Sabres on Oct. 12.

Over the course of his rookie season, Renberg would play with many different linemates. Most notably, he played left wing on a line with Eric Lindros and Mark Recchi (supplanting former “Crazy Eights” member Brent Fedyk). He also spend stints with Rod Brind’Amour and Kevin Dineen as his linemates and an early-season spell with Slava Butsayev and Per-Erik “Pelle” Eklund.

No matter the linemates, Renberg produced at a steady and consistent pace in his rookie year. His best game came on February 14, as he exploded for a natural hat trick in the third period of a road tilt in San Jose to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 6-3 win for Philadelphia. Combined with a first period assist, it marked the first four-point night of Renberg’s NHL career.

In total, Renberg produced 82 points (38 goals, 44 assists) in 83 games in NHL rookie year. He was a finalist for the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of Year, finishing third in the balloting. He also took NHL All-Rookie Team honors and the Flyers’ inaugural Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Award.

Two decades after Renberg set the Flyers’ rookie scoring record, the mark still stands as the highest point total for a first-year player in franchise history. The following season, the Legion of Doom line was born, with Renberg playing right wing on a line with center Lindros and newly acquired left winger John LeClair.

Over the first 168 games of his NHL career, Renberg racked up 84 goals, 93 assists and 177 points. Unfortunately, thereafter, he was never again a fully healthy player. A severe sports hernia followed by an almost freakish array of both major and minor injuries steadily derailed his career.

However, for his first two-and-a-half seasons in the NHL, Renberg was among the most consistently productive wingers in the NHL. Even during stretches where Lindros was unavailable for multiple games due to injury, Renberg produced at a similar clip.

For instance, during a seven-game stretch that Lindros missed with a knee injury (courtesy of a low-bridge hit by Florida’s Jason Woolley) in Nov. 1995, Renberg and LeClair were centered for four games by Anatoli Semenov and three games by Joel Otto. During that stretch, Renberg produced eight points — including a pair of two-goal games. LeClair had three goals and three assists.

Prior to Renberg’s recurrent sports hernia, he had only missed two games in his NHL career. Thereafter, he began to miss time frequently and never again had quite the same explosive stride and overpowering combination of strength and finesse that he possessed before.

82 points that he posted during the 1993-94 season. His 82 points (38G,44A) still stands as the team record for most points in a season by a rookie.

This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.

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