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The Chicken, the Egg, and Nikolay Zherdev | November
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For decades coaches have been benching players who don't give it their all every shift. For decades coaches have been benching players who don't play responsible defense. For decades players that neither give it their all every shift nor play responsible defense have had an offensive upside that counter-balances any of the negative aspects of sloppy play in their own zone or lazy back checks. I'm just not sure why Nik Zherdev doesn't even get a smidgen of the treatment that many of those guys have received.

Zherdev is an electric player. When he has the puck or thinks he's going to get the puck he is without a doubt the most dominant player on the ice after Claude Giroux, Mike Richards, and Ville Leino. When he isn't in a threatening position, to be honest, I don't even look at him. Which might explain why I'm missing what must be some fairly egregious and horrific play by the Ukrainian on the defensive side of things.

I'm not sure why I'm so adamantly in support of the guy either. I'm just not sure he got a fair deal from the media from the moment he was signed, and I don't know if that was deserved or not. And then they gave the kid's number to a try out, and moved his locker into the bathroom. If they had an inkling that Zherdev's mental state or happiness was going to be the ultimate source of any issues with the 26 year old it's fairly obvious that over the course of the pre-season and now 1/4 of the regular season the organization has held a firm line on breaking him rather than catering to him.

But is a team not a team if everyone's not treated the same? Is Darroll Powe going to complain to Peter Laviolette and ask "Why doesn't Zherdev have to back check and I do?" I don't believe that to be the case. The reality of the sport is that there are some people who need to block shots and fight to stay in the league. Then there are some people that need to score 30 goals to stay in the league. Zherdev is an example of the latter.

I know adding preseason stats in here is going to cloud the argument a bit, but in the 25 games Zherdev has dressed for the Flyers he's scored 12 goals. He's fun to watch, and I believe that if Laviolette stopped messing with his head and robbing him of confidence every other game he could operate at that goal-every-other-game level for the remainder of the season. Honestly. 

We have a stronger defense this year, we've had better goaltending. We have a bottled up sniper on the roster and rarely give him the freedom to explore his offensive upside at possibly the cost of his defense. Which is something we quite obviously let a couple other players do on a nightly basis. Just put him in, put him on a line with Claude Giroux, and watch him score.