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Greenberg: MacDonald settles in

A full week under his belt as a Flyer, Andrew MacDonald is starting to get comfortable

Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 9:09 AM ET / News
By Jay Greenberg  - philadelphiaflyers.com
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Greenberg: MacDonald settles in
A full week under his belt as a Flyer, Andrew MacDonald is starting to get comfortable




















The fast version of the Flyers painful loss to the Devils Tuesday night was a blown call disallowing Scott Hartnell’s apparent tying goal in the final minute.

But the bang-bang second poke by Jaromir Jagr of a puck Steve Mason had just stopped, winning the game, 2-1, followed an interminable Devils shift in their offensive end.

New Jersey didn’t have many of them, just enough to score both goals and take two big points home, leaving behind another reminder to the Flyers that speed is of the essence.

Movement towards the playoffs is tied to moving the puck out of their end, why Andrew MacDonald is here and why Paul Holmgren’s intention is to keep his underrated deadline trade acquisition around for many years.

“I think I skate pretty well and make a good first pass,” says MacDonald in quick summary of what he brings to Philadelphia. Andrej Meszaros, whom MacDonald replaces, had some wheels and the ability to make the more eye-opening play. But he was more a puck carrier than a passer and wasn’t the easiest guy for partner Luke Schenn to read from.

It being hard to replace Chris Pronger, simple remains better. So do not underestimate the upgrade the Flyers made in trading second and third round draft choices and marginal prospect Matt Mangene for probably the best defenseman from the small group available at the trading deadline.

MacDonald, 27, about to come into this prime after five largely anonymous NHL seasons with the Islanders, will be worth the four-or five year deal the Flyers will offer to keep him from the open market.

Since MacDonald, underpaid at $575,000, turned down four years at $16 million from the Islanders, this is not going to be the easiest sign. But the short list of available defensemen at the deadline is the same as what it will be July 1. And the Flyers need MacDonald going forward.

His NHL-leading 198 blocked shots at the time of his trade probably were a reflection of how of much time the disappointing Islanders spend in their own end. But they also are a tribute to MacDonald’s mobility.

“The only thing not to like about him is his size (6-0, 185 pounds),” says one NHL scout. “The Islanders had to use him for too many minutes (25-plus per game) and he wore down.

“The Flyers can get him to 20-21 a game, which will really help him. I don’t think he is a first-pair defenseman, but he’s better than a five.”

Except when he will man the power play with his ex-Islander teammate Mark Streit -- MacDonald will play with Schenn as a five or a six, while Streit will remain with Nick Grossmann and Braydon Coburn with Kimmo Timonen.

Even if they can’t hit the jackpot with a Norris Trophy candidate, the Flyers will renew their efforts to upgrade.

Do not assume Timonen, who has rallied from a bad start, has made up his mind about retiring. His decision probably will depend in large part on whether the Flyers make the playoffs, and their interest in having him back will depend on both a role and a salary with which they are at ease.

In the absence of a blueline star who can handle monster minutes, the Flyers need defensemen who can consistently give them 20 good ones. Through three games MacDonald looks comfortable enough to settle in.

FLYERS GM PAUL HOLMGREN ON ACQUIRING MacDONALD

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 76 21 55 7 76
C. Giroux 75 23 46 2 69
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
M. Streit 75 9 36 -10 45
B. Schenn 76 14 25 -7 39
S. Couturier 76 13 17 1 30
M. Del Zotto 58 9 20 -5 29
M. Read 74 7 22 -7 29
M. Raffl 61 20 6 7 26
V. Lecavalier 52 7 11 -10 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 15 17 11 .927 2.24
R. Emery 10 10 6 .892 3.15
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