He has arrived…
Nolan Patrick is officially a Philadelphia Flyer. He’s traded in that dreadful #64 jersey for his signature #19 and suddenly October 4th can’t come quick enough!
See you in San Jose, @nolan_patrick19 😎 pic.twitter.com/yitaZKa2EK
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 2, 2017
To be completely honest, there was never much doubt whether or not Patrick would make the opening night roster. There isn’t much more that the Brandon Wheat Kings and the teams they play against could teach Patrick about playing hockey. He’s a top tier talent and what he’s done on the big stage this preseason has only further proven that fact.
From regularly dishing out beautiful passes to throwing down with an 11 year veteran, Patrick gave fans a plethora of highlight reel moments. Moments which the Flyers faithful hope to experience for many years to come.
"You wanna go?"
Nolan Patrick Drops the gloves! pic.twitter.com/hmxPaUjBLn
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) September 29, 2017
Through all the fanfare and anticipation, it’s easy to get carried away when watching the prospective leader of our franchise at work. All was not perfect for the young centerman these past few weeks and one of the best examples of that came in the Flyers’ overtime win against the Islanders.
The team as a whole sputtered out of the gate, struggling offensively and not recording their first shot until after more than 12 minutes of play. There were plenty of penalties across the board with Nolan picking up 2 minutes, himself. Every individual, as well as every team, has their off nights and even our young phenom will not be exempt from that. What’s important is something that our beloved team has struggled with for a long time, perseverance.
On too many nights it’s seemed like our players have gotten into their own heads a bit. Steve Mason was notorious for getting too emotional and letting it effect his game. Our captain, Claude Giroux, is also a repeat offender of this at times, becoming a shadow of himself and essentially transforming into a non-factor. Shayne Gostisbehere’s slow start to last season, Ilya Brzgalov’s descent from elite to irrelevant, and Luke Schenn’s inability to reach his full potential could all be attributed to these same mental lapses. On this particular night, though, Patrick showed he may not fall victim to this poisonous self-doubt as easy as so many others have in the past.
After 60 minutes of lackluster hockey, our boys in orange found themselves where they’ve been so many times before, 3-on-3 overtime. Shortly after the start of the period, Nolan Patrick found himself with the puck on his stick. He skated up the left side boards and spotted Gostisbehere joining the rush with Dale Weiss in tow. Rather than let doubt creep in and effect his play, he dished a sweet saucer pass through traffic that found the streaking Gostisbehere who rocketed the puck home. The assist was his first of three that he’d have this preseason and was a great way to find his heading at the NHL level.
This self-confidence is one of the major reasons I’m so excited about Nolan. He came into training camp with full intentions of being on the plane to California at the end of it. The real test begins now. Over the coming weeks he’ll face players who’s level he hopes to soon reach. The likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Anze Kopitar, Niklas Backstrom and Joe Thornton will all find themselves in the same face-off circle as our stud center, all of whom Patrick shares many of the same qualities. The difference is, they’ve proven their worth in the NHL, now it’s time for Nolan to prove his.
Let’s Go Flyers!
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Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports